Tuần – Week: 24 – 29/08/2020

<For English version, please scroll down…>

Cuộc khủng hoảng sức khỏe toàn cầu đã thay đổi cách tiếp cận xã hội mà cụ thể nhất là ở thế hệ Z (sinh sau năm 1998), nhu cầu cơ bản thực phẩm và điện năng lần đầu tiên đóng vai trò thực sự trong dài hạn;  

Các sự kiện chính – Main events:

Bộ Công Thương tổ chức hội thảo lần 1 quy hoạch tổng thể về năng lượng quốc gia thời kỳ 2021-2030, tầm nhìn 2050. Đây là lần đầu tiên Việt Nam lập quy hoạch tổng thể năng lượng quốc gia.

Theo đánh giá của Ken Research, thị trường chuỗi cung ứng lạnh Việt Nam dự kiến sẽ đạt 1,8 tỷ USD vào năm 2021. Trong khi đó, con số năm 2019 theo ước tính của FiinGroup chỉ dừng lại ở 169 triệu USD.

Nghị định được ban hành tháng 1 và có hiệu lực từ tháng 3/2017 là văn bản pháp lý đầu tiên cho phép thí điểm người Việt được chơi tại các điểm kinh doanh casino. Trước khi Nghị định này có hiệu lực, cả nước có 8 dự án kinh doanh casino được cấp phép và tất cả chỉ mở cửa với khách nước ngoài. Trong đó, 7 dự án hoạt động là Casino Đồ Sơn tại Hải Phòng; Casino Lợi Lai, Hoàng Gia, khách sạn Hồng Vận tại Quảng Ninh; Casino khách sạn quốc tế tại Lào Cai; Casino Silver Shores tại Đà Nẵng; Casino Hồ Tràm tại Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu và một dự án đang triển khai khi đó là Casino Nam Hội An tại Quảng Nam. Năm 2017, doanh thu từ hoạt động kinh doanh casino của 8 dự án này đạt 1.190 tỷ, nộp ngân sách 645 tỷ. Năm 2018 doanh thu tăng 31% lên 1.560 tỷ, còn số nộp ngân sách tăng 39% lên 898 tỷ đồng. Năm 2019, doanh thu và nộp ngân sách các dự án này tăng 60% và 49%, đạt 2.500 tỷ và 1.340 tỷ đồng.

Tại sao nó ảnh hưởng – Why is it affected:

Những năm tới, xu thế phát triển năng lượng thế giới sẽ tập trung vào việc thúc đẩy mạnh mẽ chuyển dịch năng lượng, thực thi các chính sách mạnh mẽ chống biến đổi khí hậu và tăng cường an ninh năng lượng. Cùng với việc tăng trưởng sử dụng điện ngày càng cao, Việt Nam sẽ chuyển sang nhập khẩu ròng năng lượng. Tiến sĩ Nguyễn Anh Tuấn  thuộc Viện Năng lượng cho rằng, nhu cầu sử dụng điện tăng cao, nhưng nhiều số dự án điện sử dụng năng lượng sơ cấp như than, khí tự nhiên… chậm tiến độ vài năm đã và đang ảnh hưởng rất lớn tới cung-cầu và an ninh cung cấp điện. Để giải bài toán thiếu điện cận kề trong các năm tới, Quy hoạch điện VIII cần đẩy mạnh phát triển năng lượng tái tạo. Theo ông Anh  Tuấn, Việt Nam đang có nhiều tiềm năng cho nguồn năng lượng này. Tiềm năng điện gió trên bờ vào khoảng 217GW, tập trung chủ yếu ở vùng Trung bộ, Tây Nguyên và Nam bộ. Tiềm năng điện gió biển vào khoảng 160GW rải rác ở các tỉnh ven biển Bắc – Trung – Nam, tiềm năng điện mặt trời cũng được đánh giá khả quan, tập trung ở Tây Nguyên, Nam Trung bộ và Nam bộ. Việt Nam đang trở thành nước nhập khẩu năng lượng, ông Nguyễn Tài Anh, Phó tổng giám đốc Tập đoàn Điện lực Việt Nam (EVN), nhận định; theo ông Tài Anh, việc đảm bảo an ninh năng lượng không chỉ là quan tâm về hạ tầng nhập khẩu mà còn phải giải được bài toán liên quan tiêu chí giá năng lượng và nền kinh tế phải chịu đựng được.

Trong bối cảnh toàn cầu hóa, xuất khẩu nông sản, hoa quả, thủy sản gia tăng. Hơn hết, giữa đại dịch Covid-19, thế giới cần đến những cách thức giúp lưu trữ, bảo quản sản phẩm được lâu hơn và đảm bảo an toàn vệ sinh thực phẩm. Nhiều nghiên cứu cho thấy, chuỗi lạnh có thể giúp rau quả kéo dài thời gian sử dụng từ 2-3 ngày lên 7 ngày, từ đó hỗ trợ các nhà bán lẻ, sản xuất… giảm được hao hụt đến 60-70%. theo nghiên cứu của CEL Consulting, trung bình 25,4% sản phẩm nông sản được sản xuất bị hư hỏng trước khi được đưa đến các nhà máy chế biến hoặc trung tâm phân phối. Chi tiết hơn, tài liệu điều tra của FAO từng chỉ ra, tổn thất sau thu hoạch lúa gạo tại Đông Nam Á vào khoảng 10-37%. Trong đó, tổn thất trong giai đoạn bảo quản có thể lên đến 6% khi điều kiện bảo quản quá nghèo nàn. Sự hao hụt này được nhìn ở cả 2 mặt: hao hụt trọng lượng và suy giảm về chất lượng. Chẳng hạn khi hạt tự bốc nóng thì hao hụt về trọng lượng có thể lên tới 3-8%. Hay khi rau quả tiếp xúc với ánh nắng, không khí, nhiệt độ cao, theo bác sĩ Trần Thị Minh Hạnh – Phó giám đốc Trung tâm Dinh dưỡng Tp.HCM, vitamin C có trong nhiều loại rau quả như cam, quýt, dâu tây, cà chua, ổi, bông cải xanh, khoai lang, khoai tây… sẽ dễ hao hụt, “bay hơi“. Từ 2 thập niên qua, các quốc gia phát triển như Pháp, Đức, Phần Lan, Tây Ban Nha, Mỹ… đã thúc đẩy đầu tư và trở thành những nước có chuỗi cung ứng lạnh phát triển nhanh nhất thế giới. Sản phẩm nông sản ở các nước này có giá trị gia tăng 100%, trong khi Ấn Độ, Trung Quốc lại khiêm tốn hơn, chỉ 7% ở Ấn Độ và 23% ở Trung Quốc. Trung Quốc, Ấn Độ cũng đã nhìn thấy vấn đề của mình và tìm cách khắc phục. Tại Việt Nam, lợi ích của chuỗi cung ứng lạnh đang dần được quan tâm. Các nhà sản xuất, chế biến đã nhận ra, với chu kỳ sử dụng ngắn, dễ hư hỏng, tính thời vụ cao và theo mùa, rau quả, nông sản cần được bảo quản ở nhiệt độ thích hợp. Quá trình này là một chuỗi khép kín và tích hợp, từ khâu sản xuất, thu hoạch, chế biến, đóng  gói, lưu trữ, vận chuyển, phân phối đến người tiêu dùng cuối cùng.

Tình hình hoạt động casino của các doanh nghiệp tại Việt Nam vừa được Bộ Tài chính cập nhật trong tờ trình xin chủ trương sửa đổi, bổ sung Nghị định 03/2017. Tổng doanh thu các casino tăng đều trong ba năm gần đây nhưng không phải bên nào cũng có lãi. Tuy nhiên, con số tổng hợp phản ánh kết quả kinh doanh tăng liên tục những năm gần đây không phải xu hướng chung của các casino. Trong đó, hai dự án công bố số liệu kinh doanh hàng năm là Casino khách sạn quốc tế Lào Cai và Casino Hoàng Gia tại Quảng Ninh lại cho thấy hai xu hướng trái ngược. Nói về kết quả lỗ năm 2019, RIC cho biết, sòng bài là hạng mục kinh doanh đặc biệt, thắng thua hoàn toàn phụ thuộc vào may rủi, dòng tiển chuyển vào bởi khách mua chíp cao chưa hẳn đã làm tăng doanh thu. Trong khi đó, công ty vẫn phải duy trì đủ nhân viên để phục vụ các bàn chơi và máy trò chơi. Ngoài ra, một lý do khác là tình trạng cạnh tranh khốc liệt làm cho khách đến sử dụng dịch vụ tại công ty giảm mạnh. Những đại lý khách chơi bài là đối tác của công ty không huy động được lượng khách như dự kiến. Doanh thu sụt giảm, thu chi mất cân đối nghiêm trọng. Ngoại trừ năm 2018, RIC ghi nhận doanh thu tăng đột biến giúp lợi nhuận gộp từ mảng casino là số dương, những năm còn lại đều chịu lỗ.

Xu hướng chính – Key trends:

Các chuyên gia đề xuất một kịch bản phát triển đa dạng hóa các nguồn năng lượng, giảm phụ thuộc vào nhiên liệu nhập khẩu, đảm bảo an ninh năng lượng quốc gia. Trong đó, đẩy mạnh năng lượng tái tạo, đặc biệt ở khu vực miền Trung và Nam bộ. LNG và nhiệt điện than sẽ duy trì ở mức hợp lý, nhưng cần được đổi mới công nghệ để đạt hiệu suất cao, giảm phát thải. Ngoài ra, ngành điện cũng cần xem xét nhập khẩu và liên kết lưới điện với các nước láng giềng nhằm đáp ứng linh hoạt nhu cầu năng lượng trong nước.

Hiện nay, theo báo cáo của Bộ Công Thương, rau quả là một trong 13 sản phẩm nông nghiệp chủ lực của Việt Nam, chiếm khoảng 1,4% tổng nhập khẩu rau quả của thế giới (khoảng 270 tỷ USD năm 2018). Thị trường xuất khẩu chủ yếu của nông sản Việt là Trung Quốc, Mỹ, Hàn Quốc, Nhật Bản, Hà Lan… Với đặc điểm này, những cải thiện về bảo quản lạnh có thể giúp rau quả, nông sản, thủy sản thâm nhập nhiều thị trường xuất khẩu và tránh được nhiều thất thoát. Chuỗi cung ứng lạnh không chỉ giữ rau quả thực phẩm tươi ngon, chất lượng mà còn giúp bảo đảm an toàn, bảo vệ sức khỏe cho con người. Theo nghiên cứu từ Nielsen, người dân ngày càng tăng dần chi tiêu cho sức khỏe và gần một nửa người tiêu dùng Việt quan tâm tới thực phẩm tươi, tự nhiên. Thỏa mãn tiêu chí này là nhà sản xuất, nhà bán lẻ đã có thể nâng cao chất lượng cuộc sống và gia tăng sự hài lòng của khách hàng.

Sau khi Nghị định 03/2017 có hiệu lực, có thêm 3 dự án khu du lịch, dịch vụ vui chơi giải trí tổng hợp có casino được cấp chứng nhận đăng ký đầu tư là Casino Laguna Lăng Cô (Thừa Thiên Huế), Casino Phú Quốc (Kiên Giang) và Casino Cam Ranh (Khánh Hoà). Việc thí điểm cho người Việt Nam vào chơi casino được thực hiện với hai dự án tại Vân Đồn (Quảng Ninh) và Phú Quốc (Kiên Giang), trong đó dự án tại Phú Quốc đi vào hoạt động từ tháng 1/2019. Casino Corona Phú Quốc thuộc Công ty cổ phần Đầu tư và Phát triển du lịch Phú Quốc được giới thiệu là dự án đầu tiên thí điểm cho người Việt tham gia. Đến 31/12/2019, casino này đón hơn 105.000 lượt khách, trong đó 45% là người Việt Nam. Lũy kế tổng doanh thu hoạt động casino tại đây năm 2019 đạt 1.433 tỷ, trong đó doanh thu kinh doanh casino có thuế là 1.381 tỷ đồng. Lợi nhuận chưa bao gồm chi phí lãi và chi phí khấu hao phân bổ cho hoạt động kinh doanh casino đạt hơn 280 tỷ đồng.

Cái gì tiếp theo – What comes next:

Thực tế cho thấy, thị trường logistics lạnh đang trong giai đoạn phát triển, có tiềm năng rất lớn, dự báo sẽ có thêm nhiều doanh nghiệp tham gia. Theo đánh giá của Ken Research, thị trường chuỗi cung ứng lạnh Việt Nam dự kiến sẽ đạt 1,8 tỷ USD vào năm 2021. Trong khi đó, con số năm 2019 theo ước tính của FiinGroup chỉ dừng lại ở 169 triệu USD. Thị trường logistics cung ứng lạnh Việt Nam ghi nhận sự có mặt của nhiều nhà đầu tư. Nếu các nhà nước ngoài chủ yếu phát triển hệ thống kho lạnh thì hầu hết các doanh nghiệp trong nước như ABA Cooltrans, Tân Bảo An… nắm giữ thị trường vận chuyển hàng lạnh. Trong đó, ABA đang dẫn đầu thị thị trường với trên 300 xe tải lạnh và hơn 1.000 xe máy lạnh. Từng chia sẻ trước đó, ông Lương Quang Thi, CEO ABA Cooltrans cho biết Công ty sẽ còn phát triển mạnh về hệ thống kho lạnh và đội xe lạnh, hướng đến các giải pháp tích hợp để giải quyết tất cả các nhu cầu từ đầu tới cuối của nhà sản xuất. “Đây là giải pháp trong bối cảnh thị trường khá phân mảnh với những nhà cung cấp dịch vụ chuyên biệt và công suất kho lạnh, xe tải đông lạnh ở Việt Nam nhìn chung mới chỉ chiếm số lượng nhỏ so với nhu cầu“.

Dấu hiệu rủi ro – Risk signals:

Không thể có cái gọi là “phục hồi” mà người lãnh đạo cần “tái phát minh” doanh nghiệp như cách Đặng Tiểu Bình làm với kinh tế Trung Quốc.

Trong những khoảnh khắc bất ổn, không ai quan tâm đến tài hùng biện thiên phú, khả năng lãnh đạo nằm ở cách cư xử; và cách cư xử có thể điều chỉnh…

xxx – npl

<Week …>

 The global health crisis had changed the social approach, especially to Generation Z (born after 1998), basic food and electricity needs played a real role for the first time in the long run;

Main events:

The Ministry of Industry and Trade organized the first workshop on a national energy master plan for the period 2021-2030, with a vision to 2050. This was the first time that Vietnam had established an synchronized national energy master plan.

According to Ken Research, Vietnam’s cold supply chain market was expected to reach $ 1.8 billion by 2021. Meanwhile, the figure in 2019 according to FiinGroup’s estimate had been only $ 169 million.

The Decree, issued in January and coming into effect in March 2017, was the first legal document allowing a pilot Vietnamese to play at casino gambling locations. Before this Decree came into effect, the country had eight casino business projects licensed and all were open to foreigners. In which, 7 active projects were Do Son Casino in Hai Phong; Casino Loi Lai, Hoang Gia, Hong Van Hotel in Quang Ninh; International hotel casino in Lao Cai; Casino Silver Shores in Da Nang; Casino Ho Tram in Ba Ria – Vung Tau and an ongoing project at that time was Casino Nam Hoi An in Quang Nam. In 2017, revenue from casino business activities of these 8 projects reached 1,190 billion, paying to the state budget 645 billion. In 2018, revenue increased by 31% to 1,560 billion, while the number paid to the state budget increased by 39% to 898 billion. In 2019, revenue and budget remittances of these projects will increase by 60% and 49%, reaching VND 2,500 billion and VND 1,340 billion.

Why is it affected:

In the coming years, the world’s energy development trend would focus on strongly promoting energy transition, implementing strong policies to combat climate change and strengthening energy security. Along with increasing electricity use, Vietnam would turn to a net energy import. Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan of the Energy Institute said that the demand for electricity increased, but many power projects were using primary energy sources such as coal, natural gas … delayed for a few years had been and were greatly affected heavily to supply-demand and power security. To solve the problem of nearby electricity shortage in the coming years, Electricity Planning VIII should promote the development of renewable energy. According to Mr. Tuan, Vietnam had shown lot of potentials for the energy source. The onshore wind power potential was about 217 GW, mainly concentrated in the Central, Central Highlands and South regions. The potential for marine wind power was about 160 GW scattered in the North – Central – South coastal provinces, the solar power potential was also evaluated positively, concentrating in the Central Highlands, South Central and South. Vietnam was becoming an energy importer, said Nguyen Tai Anh, deputy general director of Vietnam Electricity (EVN); according to Mr. Tai Anh, ensuring power security was not only concerned with imported infrastructure, but also must solve the problem related to energy price criteria and the economy must withstand.

In the context of globalization, the export of agricultural products, fruits and aquatic products had increased. Above all, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world needed ways to help store and preserve products for a longer period of time and ensure food safety and hygiene. Many studies showed that the cold chain could help vegetables extend their shelf life from 2-3 days to 7 days, thereby supporting retailers, manufacturers … to reduce loss up to 60-70 %. According to research by CEL Consulting, an average of 25.4% of agricultural products produced were damaged before being sent to processing factories or distribution centers. In more detail, FAO survey documents had shown that the post-harvest loss of rice in Southeast Asia was about 10-37%. In particular, the losses during the storage period could be up to 6% when the storage conditions were too poor. This loss was seen on both sides: weight loss and loss in quality. For example, when the seeds were spontaneous hot, the weight loss could be up to 3-8%. Or when vegetables were exposed to sunlight, air, and high temperatures, according to Dr. Tran Thi Minh Hanh – Deputy Director of the Nutrition Center of Ho Chi Minh City, vitamin C was found in many fruits and vegetables such as oranges, tangerines, strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, guava, broccoli, sweet potatoes, potatoes … would be easily lost, “evaporated”. Over the past two decades, developed countries such as France, Germany, Finland, Spain, the US … had promoted investment and become countries with the fastest growing cold supply chain in the world. Agricultural products in these countries had 100% added value, while India and China were more modest, only 7% in India and 23% in China. China and India also saw their problem and worked to fix it. In Vietnam, the benefits of the cold chain were gradually gaining attention. Producers and processors had recognized that, with a short cycle of use, perishability, high seasonality and seasonal, fruits and vegetables should be stored at the right temperature. The process was a closed and integrated chain, from production, harvesting, processing, packaging, storing, transporting, and distributing to the end consumer.

The situation of casino operations of enterprises in Vietnam had just been updated by the Ministry of Finance in the proposal to amend and supplement Decree 03/2017. Total casino revenue had been steadily increasing over the past three years, but not all sides were profitable. However, the aggregate number reflecting the continuously increasing business results in recent years was not the general trend of casinos. In which, two projects that published their annual business data, Lao Cai International Hotel Casino and Casino Royal in Quang Ninh, showed two opposite trends. Talking about the result of the loss in 2019, RIC said that casino was a special business category, winning and losing completely depended on luck, the cash inflow by high chip buyers did not necessarily increase revenue. Meanwhile, the company still had to maintain enough staff to serve the tables and game machines. In addition, another reason was the fierce competition that makes visitors to use the company’s services plummet. The dealer guest dealers of the company were unable to mobilize the expected number of customers. Revenue decline, serious imbalance in revenue and expenditure. Except for 2018, RIC recorded a sudden increase in revenue, helping the gross profit from the casino segment to be positive, the remaining years suffered losses.

Key trends:

Experts proposed a scenario to develop diversification of energy sources, reduce dependence on imported fuels, and ensure national power security. In particular, promoting renewable energy, especially in the central and southern regions. LNG and coal-fired power would remain at reasonable levels, but technological innovation was required to achieve high efficiency and reduce emissions. In addition, the power sector should also consider importing and linking the grid with neighboring countries to flexibly meet domestic energy demand.

Currently, according to a report by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, vegetables and fruits were one of the 13 main agricultural products of Vietnam, accounting for about 1.4% of the world’s total import of vegetables and fruits (about 270 billion USD in 2018). The main export markets for Vietnamese agricultural products were China, the US, Korea, Japan, the Netherlands … With this feature; improvements in cold storage could help vegetables, fruits, and aquatic products, penetrating to many export markets and avoiding many losses. The cold chain not only keeped fruits and vegetables fresh and delicious, but also helped to ensure safety and protect human health. According to research from Nielsen, people were spending increasingly on health and nearly half of Vietnamese consumers were interested in fresh, natural food. Satisfying this criterion was that manufacturers and retailers were able to improve quality of life and increase customer satisfaction.

After the Decree 03/2017 took effect, there were 3 more projects of resorts and entertainment services with casino that had been certified for investment registration, namely Casino Laguna Lang Co (Thua Thien Hue), Casino Phu Quoc (Kien Giang) and Casino Cam Ranh (Khanh Hoa). The pilot for Vietnamese people to play casino was implemented with two projects in Van Don (Quang Ninh) and Phu Quoc (Kien Giang), of which the project in Phu Quoc came into operation from January 2019. Casino Corona Phu Quoc of Phu Quoc Tourism Development and Investment Joint Stock Company was introduced as the first pilot project for Vietnamese to participate. As of December 31, 2019, this casino welcomed more than 105,000 visitors, of which 45% were Vietnamese. Accumulated total revenue from casino activities here in 2019 reached 1,433 billion, of which casino business revenue with tax was VND 1,381 billion. Profits excluding interest expenses and amortization expenses allocated to the casino business were more than VND 280 billion.

What comes next:

In fact, the cold logistics market was in the development stage, with great potential, and more businesses were expected to participate. According to Ken Research, Vietnam’s cold supply chain market was expected to reach $ 1.8 billion by 2021. Meanwhile, the figure in 2019 according to FiinGroup’s estimate was only USD 169 million. Vietnam’s cold supply logistics market had recorded the presence of many investors. If foreigners mainly developed cold storage systems, most of the domestic firms such as ABA Cooltrans, Tan Bao An … would hold the cold transport market. In particular, ABA was leading the market with over 300 refrigerated trucks and more than 1,000 air-conditioned vehicles. Previously, Mr. Luong Quang Thi, CEO of ABA Cooltrans said that the company would also thrive in cold storage system and cold truck fleet, towards integrated solutions to solve all needs from the beginning to the manufacturer’s end. “This is a solution in the context of a relatively fragmented market with specialized service providers and the capacity of cold storage and refrigerated trucks in Vietnam in general only accounts for a small number of demand.

Risk signals:

There could not be the so-called “restoration” that the leader needed to “reinvent” the business the way Deng Xiaoping had done with the Chinese economy.

In moments of instability, no one cared about endowed eloquence, leadership was in approaches; and modifiable manners…

xxx – npl

Share – Học Đạo Là Như Thế! – HT. Viên Minh — Banmaihong’s Blog

Ngày xưa, sau khi Đức Phật chứng Đạo, tại sao Ngài không mở trường Thiền để có thể dạy hàng ngàn, hàng vạn người cùng một lúc? Ngược lại, Ngài chỉ vân du từ nơi này sang nơi khác, tùy căn cơ khai thị cho những người hữu duyên Ngài gặp trên đường? Đơn giản […]

Học Đạo Là Như Thế! – HT. Viên Minh — Banmaihong’s Blog

Ngày xưa, sau khi Đức Phật chứng Đạo, tại sao Ngài không mở trường Thiền để có thể dạy hàng ngàn, hàng vạn người cùng một lúc? Ngược lại, Ngài chỉ vân du từ nơi này sang nơi khác, tùy căn cơ khai thị cho những người hữu duyên Ngài gặp trên đường? Đơn giản vì trình độ, hoàn cảnh và cơ địa mỗi người một khác, nên đức Phật ngay nơi mỗi người khai thị pháp mà người đó đang trải nghiệm, và vì vậy chỉ người đó mới thật sự biết đức Phật đang chỉ dạy điều gì, người khác có nghe hay đọc lại kinh điển tường thuật thì cũng chỉ để tham khảo hay suy luận mà thôi.

Cách dạy của Đức Phật cũng rất đơn giản, Ngài chỉ hướng dẫn mỗi người biết trở về khám phá sự thật – thực tại thân-thọ-tâm-pháp ngay nơi chính mình, không thể tìm kiếm ở đâu hay bất cứ ai khác. Ngài chỉ dạy đơn giản như thế, còn lại là việc của mỗi người tự mình khám phá, tự mình thấy ra sự thật chứ không có ai khác làm thay được cả. Học Đạo không thể là:”Thầy ơi, Thầy đã giác ngộ rồi, cho con giác ngộ với” được.

Ngày nay, Cam áp dụng Kinh Điển tu luyện được điều gì liền làm thiền sư Cam, và mở trường thiền để dạy Bưởi, Mít, Ổi, Xoài, …tất các loại hành theo kinh nghiệm mà mình đã đạt được! Thiền sinh Chanh, Quýt, Mận, Đào gì mỗi ngày cũng đều phải thực hành đúng theo phương pháp duy nhất của Cam đặt ra với mong cầu đạt được kinh nghiệm của Cam. Học và hành Đạo kiểu này hoàn toàn đi ngược lại với hướng khai thị của Đức Phật là trở về “nương tựa chính mình, không nương tựa ai khác” (Attā hi attano nātho, ko hi nātho paro siyā)!

Phật dạy trở về với thực tại thân thọ tâm pháp đang là, vì vậy, những gì đang xảy ra nơi thân-tâm mỗi người mới là cuốn kinh hiện thực đáng đọc nhất, là sự thật mà mỗi người cần tự khám phá chứ không phải tìm kiếm sự thật nơi thầy mình, ở trong chùa, trong các trường thiền hay trong kinh điển nào cả. Nhiều Phật tử đã bỏ rất nhiều thời gian để nghiên cứu Vi Diệu Pháp, rồi Duy Thức Học, rồi luận Tánh Không v.v… Cuối cùng kiến thức ngày càng nhiều mà trí tuệ ngày càng bị sở tri che lấp, học tập nhiều năm rồi cũng chả thấy Sự Thật đâu cả.

Nói về kiến thức Phật học thì thời mạt pháp này Tăng Ni, thậm chí Phật tử, còn giỏi hơn các vị Thánh thời đức Phật rất nhiều. Hầu hết các bậc Thánh chỉ nghe được một pháp thoại hay thậm chí một câu kệ Phật nói thôi đã chứng ngộ rồi, còn ngày nay có rất nhiều học giả, nhiều tiến sĩ Phật học, nhiều vị thuộc lòng Tam Tạng, thông suốt cả Chú Giải lẫn các bộ Luận v.v… nhưng không biết có ngộ được gì không!? Trong khi năm vị Kiều-trần-như (Kondañña) chỉ nghe pháp thoại Chuyển Pháp Luân là đã giác ngộ, rồi nghe lời đức Phật họ đi đó đây du hoá, ít khi nghe thêm pháp thoại nào nữa. Ngày nay nhiều Tăng Ni Phật tử nghe, đọc, nghiền ngẫm, thậm chí thuộc làu làu không biết bao nhiêu bài kinh, mà giác ngộ thì chả biết về đâu.

Học Đạo vẫn là tự khám phá sự thật nơi chính mình, ngay cả khi được đức Phật trực tiếp khai thị thì sự thật cần khám phá vẫn là ở nơi chính mình, chứ không phải nơi Phật, nơi lời Phật dạy hoặc nơi Tăng đoàn được cho là mẫu mực. Trong thiền tông có câu “phùng Phật sát Phật” với ý nương tựa chính mình, không nương tựa ai khác. Phật dạy: “Ai thấy Sự Thật là thấy Như Lai” còn người mỗi ngày nắm chéo y Như Lai, đi theo Như Lai từng bước chân cũng không bao giờ thấy được Như Lai, huống chi rập khuôn các phương pháp do các thiền sư chế định theo kinh nghiệm cục bộ của mình! Người giác ngộ chỉ có thể khai thị, động viên, khuyến khích để người khác trở về tự giác chính mình chứ không thể giác ngộ thay cho họ được.

Đức Phật dạy “Tự tâm thuần tịnh là nơi nương tựa hi hữu”. Tất cả sự thật đã đầy đủ ngay nơi mỗi người. Mọi chân lý đều có sẵn, Sinh Tử hay Niết-bàn cũng đều ở ngay đây, trong từng giây phút nơi chính thân-tâm này chứ không ở bất cứ nơi nào khác. Có người thắc mắc rằng làm sao có thể nương tựa chính mình khi mình vẫn còn đang hoang mang, chới với? Nhưng tại sao mình lại hoang mang, chới với như thế? Chính là vì khi gặp khó khăn mình liền có thói quen hướng ra ngoài tìm chỗ nương tựa, bám víu. Cuộc sống vốn vô thường, chỗ bám víu cũng chỉ là tạm bợ, nhất thời, nên khó tránh khỏi hoang mang, chới với!. Đang chới với mà loay hoay hướng ra ngoài tìm chỗ bám víu lại càng chới với thêm. Vì vậy, nếu không trở về nương tựa chính mình thì vẫn mãi còn chới với bất an.

Quy y Tam Bảo Phật – Pháp – Tăng nghĩa là gì? Một cách rốt ráo, quy y Phật là trở về nương tựa tính sáng suốt, tỉnh giác sẵn có nơi mỗi người. Quy y Pháp là trở về trọn vẹn với thực tính thân-thọ-tâm-pháp đang là, và quy y Tăng là trở về với sự thanh tịnh trong lành của thân khẩu ý, với tâm nhẫn nại, từ bi, bao dung, hỷ xả với mọi sự mọi vật. Vì vậy, cuộc đời là trường thiền vĩ đại nhất, trong đó trải nghiệm của mỗi người là đối tượng thiền trung thực nhất của người ấy, và mỗi tình huống, mỗi sự kiện xảy ra là bài học chính xác nhất thích ứng với căn cơ trình độ giúp họ nhận ra chính mình, là tấm gương phản ánh chính mình qua nghiệp duyên và nhân quả. Chính đó là những bậc thầy ngày đêm không mệt mỏi, tình nguyện chỉ dạy cho mỗi người sống thiền một cách cụ thể và chính xác hơn hướng dẫn của bất cứ thiền sư nào.

Trong cuộc đời mỗi người, ai cũng gặp phải những khó khan về đời sống gia đình, bạn bè, tình yêu, hôn nhân hoặc về công ăn việc làm, danh vọng địa vị, giáo dục con cái, sức khỏe, bệnh tật, v.v… Ai cũng phải đối diện với những bài toán khó trong cuộc đời. Người đời thì thường vừa mong thành đạt vừa muốn làm sao được sống bình an, vừa cầu ít gian nan lại vừa cao danh vọng! Người tu hành thì vừa mong đạt sở tri sở đắc lại vừa muốn làm sao thường an vui giải thoát, vừa muốn làm sao mau chứng ngộ Niêt-bàn vừa nỗ lực tích luỹ phước báu nhân thiên, v.v… Những bài toán “làm thế nào để…?” như thế càng nhiều thì càng loay hoay trăn trở với hết giải pháp này đến phương pháp nọ, tìm nơi nương tựa, ô dù vào tha lực… để rồi gánh lấy hậu quả khó lường, làm sao trở về an lạc nơi chính mình được!

Những gì đang xảy ra hiện nay trên thế giới đều là kết quả của ý muốn được tốt hơn, dễ dàng hơn, tiện nghi hơn của biết bao thế hệ, nhưng kết quả của những nỗ lực ấy lại không mấy khả quan. Cuộc sống vật chất ngày càng phong phú hơn, nhưng tại sao cuộc sống tinh thần lại ngày một tàn lụi? Tại sao công nghệ ngày càng phát triển thì môi trường ngày càng bị nhiễm độc? Cuộc sống của con người ngày càng thịnh vượng hơn, nhưng tại sao họ ngày càng bất an xáo trộn hơn?… Xem ra không mấy ai tìm được giải đáp chính xác, tối hậu cho các bài toán của đời mình. Qua biết bao thế hệ, chúng ta cứ loay hoay giải quyết được cái này thì lại hỏng cái khác, chữa sai xong chỗ này thì lại phát sinh lỗi chỗ kia, không bao giờ chấm dứt.
Sự sống là đa chiều, với sự gắn kết chặt chẽ với nhau và luôn biến động không ngừng. Vì vậy không thể tìm giải đáp hoàn hảo cho một vấn đề, khi chưa khám phá ra được nguyên nhân rốt ráo của tất cả các vấn đề trong cuộc sống.

Thật may mắn cho nhân loại, Đức Phật là người đã thấy ra toàn bộ sự thật và Ngài chỉ ra rằng đáp án cho cuộc đời không thể tìm thấy ở bên ngoài, vì nó chỉ có trong lòng mỗi người. Khi trở về nhìn lại chính mình, sẽ phát hiện ra tuy mỗi chúng ta đều muốn cuộc sống được tốt hơn, hoàn hảo hơn, nhưng phải tốt hơn hoàn hảo hơn theo ý mình mới được, vì vậy làm sao tránh khỏi phát sinh xung đột với quan niệm hoàn hảo của người khác. Nhìn lại mình, chúng ta sẽ phát hiện ra những bài toán khó mà mỗi người đang tự đặt ra cho mình dường như chỉ là một trò chơi, chúng ta tự trói buộc mình vào hệ thống giá trị quy ước của xã hội, tự đặt cho mình một chướng ngại rồi lại tìm cách vượt qua. Nhìn lại mình, rồi chúng ta cũng sẽ phát hiện ra tu tập chỉ là quá trình tự điều chỉnh nhận thức và hành vi, chúng xảy ra một cách tự động chứ không có một cái Ta nào cả, giống như khi ngủ thì mũi vẫn tự thở, tim vẫn tự đập mà thậm chí khả năng tự động điều chỉnh còn tốt hơn nhiều.

Học Đạo là như thế, là trở về không ngừng khám phá chính mình cho đến khi mỗi người tự thấy ra nguyên nhân duy nhất phát sinh ra mọi vấn đề, mọi khổ đau và phiền não mà họ đã phải gánh chịu qua biết bao kiếp sống, và lập tức phát hiện Sự Thật tối hậu, thấy ra hạnh phúc viên mãn đang ngay đó nơi thực tại hiện tiền.

Thầy Viên Minh

Share – [THĐP Translation™] Nó là BẠN (BẠN tạo ra nó) — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

(703 chữ, 3 phút đọc) Thực tại vật lý của bạn sẽ thay đổi khi bạn thay đổi. Một sự quan sát tinh thần là cần thiết. 14 more words

[THĐP Translation™] Nó là BẠN (BẠN tạo ra nó) — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

Càng ngày tôi càng hiểu nhiều hơn về luật hấp dẫn. Trước đây tôi hay sợ bị tấn công bởi mấy con chó dữ. Tôi thường thấy mình bị rượt đuổi hay bị giật mình bởi tiếng sủa của một con chó giận dữ. Tôi đã không nhận ra rằng chính nỗi sợ mãnh liệt đó đã mang lại trải nghiệm đó. Tôi biết một người sợ nhện và cô ta luôn gặp nhện. Hàng xóm của mẹ tôi rất thích chơi xổ số và ông ta trúng rất nhiều. Một người bạn của tôi thì ăn chay và anh ta hay bắt gặp những lý do ủng hộ cho quyết định ẩm thực của anh. Một người khác tôi biết thì rất thích tranh luận, vũ trụ cũng luôn mang đến cho anh ta những cơ hội để được tranh luận. Trải nghiệm thực tế của bạn sẽ tương đồng với suy nghĩ, cảm xúc và cảm giác của bạn. Nó là quy luật.

Chỉ sau khi tôi bắt đầu nói rằng “Tôi yêu chó và chó yêu tôi. Tôi luôn gặp được những con chó thân thiện” mọi thứ mới thay đổi. Thực tại vật lý của bạn sẽ thay đổi khi bạn thay đổi. Một sự quan sát tinh thần là cần thiết. Hãy chú ý đến những gì bạn suy nghĩ và cảm nhận là thật. Ví dụ như bạn có một người chị họ và trước khi đi tới một buổi picnic bạn nghĩ “Mình biết chị ta cũng sẽ có mặt và chỉ sẽ có một thái độ.” DỪNG LẠI!!! Bạn thấy không? Bạn đang tạo ra chuyện đó. Thậm chí nếu chuyện đó có là như vậy trong quá khứ, nó không có nghĩa là hôm nay cũng vậy. Mọi khoảnh khắc đều mới. Tuy nhiên nếu bạn tiếp tục mang theo cùng một cảm giác vào khoảnh khắc tiếp theo thì bạn đang kéo dài tình trạng. Hãy dạy cho bản thân mình những cảm giác mang lại Niềm Vui. “Mình sẽ đi tới buổi picnic và nó sẽ rất là vui” hoặc tưởng tượng rằng bạn đã ở đó rồi và bạn đã vui chơi thật đã. Hãy làm bất cứ chuyện gì bạn phải làm để thay đổi những khuôn mẫu không mong muốn trong đời bạn. Nó cần kiên trì, nhất quán, nhẫn nại, và can đảm. Nếu người khác đã làm được nó thì bạn cũng có thể.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/lawofattraction/comments/haya8u/it_is_you/
Biên dịch: Prana Yogi

Share – Sẵn sàng không phải là cảm xúc nhất thời — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

(1193 chữ, 4.5 phút đọc) Người ta tưởng rằng cứ “quăng bản thân mình vào vực thẳm” là thấy được ngay “chiếc giường tơ êm ái.” Đôi khi, sự êm ái ấy chỉ được ban tặng sau khi bạn đủ sức mạnh để trải qua một cuộc rèn thân khắc nghiệt từ người thầy cuộc…

Sẵn sàng không phải là cảm xúc nhất thời — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

Sau một thời gian kể từ khi mình thực hiện cú nhảy từ Hà Nội tới Đà Lạt sống, đã có một vài người bạn nhắn tin cho mình và bảo rằng cũng muốn tới Đà Lạt để bắt đầu cuộc đời mới, tránh xa nơi đô thị ồn ào, áp lực. Có người thì định hướng được bản thân tới đây sẽ làm gì, nhưng cũng có người thì nảy ra quyết định hoàn toàn ngẫu hứng. Quyết định ấy đến từ một sự chạy trốn những áp lực trong môi trường hiện tại, chứ không phải đến từ một sự nung nấu lâu dài nay đã bắt được tín hiệu để phóng đi, hoặc đến từ một đức tin mãnh liệt dâng trào muốn thay đổi cuộc chơi.

Người ta bảo rằng sống là phải dũng cảm, phải dám nhảy vào vực sâu không đáy, liều ăn nhiều. Nhưng mặt còn lại của vấn đề thì không mấy ai nói tới, đó là cú nhảy không chỉ nằm ở khoảnh khắc bạn đưa ra quyết định rơi vào môi trường hoàn toàn mới, mà còn ở quá trình chuẩn bị năng lực và kỹ năng để có thể đáp cánh an toàn. Hoặc chí ít, là chuẩn bị đủ tinh thần cho những sự nằm ngoài kỳ vọng. Dũng cảm ở đây là dám đối diện với tất cả mọi điều có thể xảy đến chứ không riêng gì chuyện đưa ra quyết định ban đầu. Đôi khi, chỉ từ một cú nhảy ban đầu ấy, bạn sẽ cần nhảy liên tiếp nhiều cú khác nữa thì mới đến được nơi mình ao ước.

Trước kia, theo một cách vô thức, mình đã trau dồi được một số kỹ năng cho bản thân, thuận theo sở thích hoặc thú vui. Nhưng sau này khi tới Đà Lạt, mình mới nhận ra rằng những kỹ năng vô tình được xây dựng ngày trước nay được đem ra sử dụng cho mục đích sinh tồn. Chúng đã nâng đỡ cuộc sống của mình trong những ngày đầu bỡ ngỡ nơi vùng đất lạ. Nghĩ lại, mình thấy đó là may mắn, vì nếu không có kỹ năng hay năng lực cá nhân, thì mình sẽ không thể trụ nổi được ở nơi này hay bất kỳ nơi nào khác. Theo mình, tăng cường năng lực của bản thân chính là cách tăng cường cơ hội được sống ở những thực tại tốt hơn, tăng cường mức độ sẵn sàng và khả năng chịu đựng những áp lực. Không phải đơn giản là cứ nhảy đến một nơi mình cho là tốt thì cuộc đời bạn sẽ tốt như trong tưởng tượng, vì có thể thực lực của bản thân chưa tương xứng với yêu cầu của thực tại ấy, trong khi bạn lại không đủ năng lượng để thích ứng với nó kịp thời.

Trước khi tới Đà Lạt, mình đã có một người bạn ở đây, một người thân thiết có cùng chí hướng với mình. Bên cạnh đó, mình cũng có gia đình hỗ trợ một phần tài chính lúc ban đầu. Mình đã vô tình rèn luyện được kỹ năng viết trong mấy năm trước đó nên sau này có thể đều đặn viết được những nội dung có giá trị, thậm chí viết được sách. Chưa kể, mình cũng từng tự nghiên cứu và tìm hiểu về Tarot nên có thể tự mở dịch vụ xem Tarot để có nguồn thu nhập trang trải cuộc sống. Mình thường xem các video về trồng trọt trên facebook nên biết một số kỹ thuật cơ bản để có một mảnh vườn nho nhỏ ở ban công. Và những chuyện “thuận lợi” khác đang diễn ra trong cuộc sống hiện tại của mình là hoa trái của những kỹ năng được tích lũy trong quá khứ nay được đặt vào một môi trường thích hợp. Ngoài ra, mình cũng phải kể tới tầm quan trọng của đức tin để giữ mọi điều tích cực nhất được tồn tại và phát huy, để mình không bỏ cuộc trong những tình huống đầy thử thách và áp lực.

Nhưng có một số người không hiểu, chỉ nhìn vào lớp vỏ bên ngoài và tưởng rằng ai tới Đà Lạt sống cũng có cơm ăn áo mặc, có nghề nghiệp ổn định, có vườn cây hoa lá để ngắm mỗi ngày. Người ta tưởng rằng cứ “quăng bản thân mình vào vực thẳm” là thấy được ngay “chiếc giường tơ êm ái.” Đôi khi, sự êm ái ấy chỉ được ban tặng sau khi bạn đủ sức mạnh để trải qua một cuộc rèn thân khắc nghiệt từ người thầy cuộc đời.

Nói đến đây mình nhớ đến chuyện có những bạn trẻ nghe danh Bill Gates bỏ trường đại học Harvard là tưởng rằng cứ bỏ đại học là mặc định trở thành tỷ phú. Rồi các bạn đua nhau ra đời sớm, bỏ dở dang những cơ hội học hành đang có trong tầm tay hay những mối quan hệ tiềm năng có thể nắm bắt ở trong trường đại học. Bill Gates bỏ học là vì ông ta biết năng lực của bản thân, biết mình muốn gì, mình có thể làm gì sau đó. Tầm mức của ông ta đã vượt khỏi ngôi trường danh giá, chứ không phải ông ấy chơi trò canh bạc may rủi, hay bị áp lực với chuyện bài vở mà đâm ra chán chường, chán trường, muốn thoái lui.

Theo mình, sẵn sàng hoàn toàn không phải là một cảm xúc nhất thời. Nó là một tâm thế kiên cường được xây dựng thông qua những kỷ luật và sự rèn luyện bản thân mỗi ngày theo thời gian. Hoặc với một góc nhìn khác, nó là một năng lực có thể chấp nhận mọi rủi ro có thể xảy ra trên con đường theo đuổi ước mơ của chính mình.

Trong thâm tâm, mình luôn thấy cuộc sống này không chỉ đơn thuần là trải nghiệm sinh tồn, mà còn là những cơ hội tuyệt vời để tiến tới những thực tại rộng mở tốt đẹp hơn. Và nếu vũ trụ đã luôn trao tặng chúng ta những món quà, thì sẽ rất uổng phí nếu như mỗi người không rèn luyện năng lực để đón nhận chúng. Hiện giờ, khi đã trải qua những sóng gió thử thách ban đầu và tạm bén rễ nơi vùng đất mới, mình mới ý thức hơn về giá trị và tầm quan trọng của việc rèn luyện bản thân mỗi ngày; không phải theo một cách ngẫu hứng, mà là có chủ đích.

Nên nói tóm lại, nếu bạn đang mang tư tưởng đổi đời bằng một cú nhảy bất kỳ, hoặc đưa ra một quyết định lớn theo hứng thú hoặc cảm xúc nhất thời, thì bạn nên giữ một đức tin thật lớn về việc phép màu có thể xảy ra, đồng thời cũng không quên sẵn sàng chấp nhận những áp lực và thử thách có thể xảy đến vượt ngoài sự tưởng tượng.

Tác giả: Vũ Thanh Hòa

Kungfu – 9 Wing Chun Kung Fu Strategies for Defeating Multiple Attackers

By Robert Young 

Full link: https://blackbeltmag.com/9-wing-chun-kung-fu-strategies-for-defeating-multiple-attackers?utm_campaign=BBM%20FY20&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=93909698&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–WEYX8T5OPvTn3uIOVlGehBarE2_nsQPnqvj8pssfsxXyaxE9jD04rPUm7oPrQBc6b5QVe5rWuZxLh85_Y7ZXRIwDNgg&utm_content=93909698&utm_source=hs_email

Two Chinese men stare at each other in an ancient courtyard. They are motionless, their eyes relaxed yet intensely focused. Their bodies are like iron sculptures — each muscle specifically conditioned for the martial art its owner has mastered.

After some time, one man finally offers his palm, turned upward toward his adversary. The other man nods his head and bows, then bursts into his favorite form, which he has perfected after thousands of hours of practice. He finishes, then motions toward the first warrior. That man bows and begins his own incredible barrage of prearranged kicks, punches, sweeps and flips. He finishes and bows again. Each man looks deeply into the eyes of the other, satisfied with the display of skill he just witnessed.

With that, the challenge match begins.

Welcome to the Future

In the past, martial arts encounters were often formalized events. One practitioner would challenge another to test his skill against the best possible opponent. Ideally, the challenges were meant not to destroy the opponent but to test one’s own abilities and self-knowledge.

Today, matches such as those are rare. Unfortunately, fights most often take place on the street, where there are no rules and there is rarely only one opponent. Furthermore, they seldom involve purely hand-to-hand combat. In gang fights, muggings and sexual assaults, honor is extinct.

Such are the times in which we live, and the martial arts we practice for self-defense should be in tune with them. Yet there is much we can learn from the masters of the past. We can draw from our martial ancestors’ understanding and mold their principles of combat to meet our present needs — just as they once did in their own lifetime. Ancient or not, a strategy that fits our modern way of living is needed by all of us.

It is true that many encounters end up on the ground, and therefore it is important to possess ground-fighting skills. However, the ground — replete with concrete, asphalt, rocks, broken glass and whatever — is the last place you want to end up. That’s especially true when more than one opponent is involved. If you commit yourself to locking up and going to the ground with one person, what’s to prevent the other pack members from pouncing on you?

Furthermore, tackling an opponent or grabbing his arm or leg requires you to reach forward. That movement makes you vulnerable to being taken off-balance. If you lose your balance, you lose your ability to move. If you lose your ability to move, you cannot position yourself correctly to execute your strategy. So, if at all possible, you need to stay on your feet to retain your mobility and balance, for you must have both to successfully deal with a group of attackers.

Traditional wing chun kung fu as taught by Black Belt Hall of Fame member William Cheung includes eight principles and strategies for dealing with multiple opponents. Over the years they have proved effective in numerous life-and-death struggles. Before you can use those teachings on the street, however, you must first understand how the art deals with a single opponent.

One on One

If you begin at what wing chun practitioners call the before-contact distance — where the opponent has to move to reach you — your primary source of information is your eyes. You can use them to track the elbow or knee of the nearest threat, be it a hand or a foot. When he hits, kicks, grabs, pushes or moves, his elbow or knee will also move. If your eyes are properly trained, they will detect the path and relative commitment of the attack.

You then reach out with a technique to intercept the attack. Your visual and contact reflexes are now in operation. The interception is intended to deflect the opponent’s strike or grab away from its target — not to stop it — and to feel the direction his force is heading. Your next move is to step off the path of that force, moving away from his non-attacking side. Finally, you jam and control the elbow of the committed arm as you counterattack.

In the end, you have shut down the attacking limb at the elbow and positioned yourself away from the opposite side—which can still hit, grab and block. This process is called “controlling the blind side.” Once you have achieved the blind-side position, you must strive to maintain it until the threat is nullified. You want to be able to continually counterattack the opponent from a position in which he cannot effectively attack or reach you.

The Needs of the Many

In traditional wing chun, what’s true for fighting one person is also true for fighting many. In effect, you must control the group’s blind side just as you must control that of the solo attacker. However, when you move to the blind side of one person, you do not just move away from that person’s opposite arm/threat; you keep away from more than one opponent.

You must not allow the attackers to surround or flank you. If they do, the number of threats you must be wary of begins to multiply rapidly: Facing two opponents means defending against four arms and four legs, facing three opponents means defending against six arms and six legs, and so forth. Therefore, you need to decrease the number of threats by moving to the group’s blind side and “stacking” the opponents away from you. You can also use the opponent with whom you are in contact as a shield against the others. It is imperative that you allow the smallest number of people — and limbs — to reach you at any one time.

Up in Arms

In addition to having to contend with multiple attackers, it is more than likely that you will have to deal with weapons during a mass attack. Bullies and predators are usually cowards, and they will hide behind the “safety” of a weapon (and other cowards) to muster the strength they need to do their dirty work.

It is helpful to divide weapons into two categories: edged and blunt. (Firearms constitute a third category, but the strategy for dealing with them is simple: Run.) When facing a blunt or edged weapon, your first objective is to get out of the situation as quickly as you can. If escape is not possible, find something you can use as a weapon and/or a shield against the opponent’s weapon. If neither course of action is possible, you are in the worst-case scenario: unarmed against a weapon.

Edged weapons — knives, machetes, axes, etc. — may be the most frightening of all because they are easy to obtain and often easy to conceal. You may not see the blade of a knife until after you feel it. Therefore, to protect yourself you must examine some principles to use against knife-wielding attackers.

The first thing you should remember when squaring off against a knife is to not put your guard up. That may sound strange, but think about it: If you put your hands out in front of you, you make it even easier for the assailant to cut you because you present him with a close target that has vulnerable nerves and blood vessels in it. Instead, raise your hands near your shoulders with your palms facing forward. This position will keep you neutral and ready without offering the opponent an easy target. It will also open up the center of your body and entice him to attack — which is exactly what you want.

The best way to defend yourself against a knife attack is to control the hand that holds it. The best way to get hold of that hand is to get the opponent to commit to an attack, especially a stab or thrust. (Unfortunately, against a good knife fighter, that may be difficult to do.) As the opponent commits, quickly remove yourself from the path of the attack and take control of the wrist of the hand that holds the blade. Keep the weapon as far from you as possible while you move the arm up and across or down and across your body. At the same time, position yourself on his blind side. To finish the confrontation, drive the attacking limb to the ground and pin it there, thus holding his body facedown.

If it is not possible to drive the arm to the ground because of the other opponents, you can finish by breaking the arm. That will keep you free to execute the blind-side strategy and may dislodge the weapon from his hand.

When facing a blunt weapon — a stick, baseball bat, club, etc. — your strategy should initially be the opposite of what you would use against an edged weapon. Rather than waiting for the opponent to commit to his attack, you should move in immediately and jam the weapon at its base. That will take away the reach advantage of the implement and allow you to deal with the threat before it reaches full velocity. Your next objective is to grab the weapon with a relatively wide grip and wrench it out of the attacker’s hands. You now have possession of the weapon and can use it against the other opponents.

If you cannot get inside the first armed opponent’s attack in time, do the opposite: Jump away. Distance is your best friend at this point. The instant the weapon passes by you, drive forward and jam it before he can initiate a second attack. Finish by using the strategy described above.

If you cannot achieve either of the aforementioned goals, you may have to actually block the weapon. When doing that, use only blocks that will deflect the force of the attack. Never attempt to stop a stick or bat by meeting it head-on with your arm. Always reach out to the weapon; then, as you step out of its path, guide it away from its target with your arms. That will prevent your limbs from absorbing 100 percent of the impact.

Basic Instincts

To be effective, you must practice all the principles and strategies described above. They need to be digested and assimilated into your reflexes so deeply that they flow out as soon as your brain recognizes an attack. On the street, things happen too quickly to allow you the luxury of being able to think about what to do. Ultimately, there is still no substitute for the ancient practice of practicing.

Remember that it’s a strange and crazy world out there. Enjoy it but stay awake. Being aware of your environment is the first and most important step toward staying safe on the streets. Feel the energy around you. Tune in to your surroundings wherever you go. Let your mind point out anything that doesn’t feel right. Keep as much distance as you can between yourself and a potentially threatening situation. Ultimately you will be able to stop trouble before it starts—and let the predators go hungry.

About the author: Eric Oram has taught wing chun for 15 years. The founder of the Los Angeles Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy, he is also an actor, fight choreographer, musician and freelance writer.

Ẩm thực – Is Quinoa *Actually* Healthier Than Rice? It Depends

By Gillie Houston

Full link: https://www.cookinglight.com/syndication/whats-better-quinoa-or-rice?did=552965-20200823&utm_campaign=ckl-daily_newsletter&utm_source=cookinglight.com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=082320&cid=552965&mid=39425214935

When put head-to-head nutritionally, which of these ancient ingredients comes out on top?

What’s Better For You: Quinoa or Rice?

MALERAPASO/GETTY IMAGES

In the battle of the world’s most popular grains, while quinoa has only recently begun to climb the ranks, rice has been one of the most commonly consumed ingredients on earth for millennia. So the real question is: When put head-to-head nutritionally, which of these ancient ingredients comes out on top?

Despite the common misconception that quinoa is a grain, this prolific ingredient is in fact a seed native to South America, and is a relative of spinach and beets. While quinoa takes on a similar texture to rice and other pillowy grain bases once cooked, the nutritional value of quinoa is more akin to its leafy vegetable relatives.

It’s no wonder why quinoa has become one of the most consumed and sought-after health foods in the world, thanks to its high levels of minerals and fiber, and the fact it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the nine essential amino acids. This makes it a rarity, as few plants are complete protein sources.

However, certain varieties of rice have been considered nutritional powerhouses long before quinoa ever came on the scene, and have the potential to provide high amounts of nutrients and fiber for a more affordable price tag. Though there are many varieties of rice in the world, we’ll take a look at the two most prevalent—white and brown—and put them head-to-head against the superfood “grain” that’s taking over.

White Rice vs. Quinoa

Though it’s undeniable that white rice has long made a delicious and affordable carbohydrate base for a wide variety of world cuisines, it doesn’t exactly have a stellar nutritional resume. This fluffy grain has a high glycemic index—meaning consuming it can potentially make your blood sugar shoot up quickly—and is a refined starch, making its nutritional benefits extremely limited.

In comparison, quinoa is rich in both fiber and protein, and contains much higher amounts of nutrients while allowing for a similar texture. Additionally, quinoa has far fewer calories and carbohydrates than white rice, which contains 40 more calories and 15 times the carbohydrates per cup than the same amount of quinoa. A cup of quinoa will also provide twice the protein and about 5 grams more fiber than the same amount of white rice.

Due to this higher quantity of protein and fiber, quinoa is not only the healthier choice, but will also fill you up faster, allowing for smaller portion sizes. Plus, this surplus of fiber can help to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. This is in stark contrast to the high glycemic white rice, which has the potential to negatively affect your blood sugar levels in an instant.

One benefit that’s shared by both quinoa and rice is that they’re both naturally gluten-free, making them both a great grain option for anyone who has an intolerance to gluten, or would simply just like to cut some gluten out of their diet. Note that many brands of quinoa and rice are processed and packed in facilities with wheat products, so if you have celiac disease or a severe gluten intolerance, make sure to find a brand that’s marked as certified gluten-free.

Brown Rice vs. Quinoa

It’s no secret that brown rice is a far healthier option than the white alternative, but is this darker grain a match for the nutritional fortitude of quinoa? Unlike white rice, brown rice does have numerous potential health benefits, including high levels of fiber and the potential to lower blood pressure. Brown rice is also a low glycemic index carbohydrate, which—similarly to quinoa—will help you get fuller from a smaller portion of food.

These differences in health benefits between white and brown rice are a result of the way these ingredients are processed for consumption. White rice has its husk, bran, and germ removed during processing, and is commonly artificially enriched afterwards to restore some of the nutrients that have been stripped away.

On the other hand, brown rice retains its healthy bran and germ throughout processing, allowing it to maintain some of those powerful nutrients that the white rice has lost. This processing also allows brown rice to retain valuable minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese.

One advantage brown rice may have over quinoa is its potential to help reduce blood pressure, as according to the Mayo Clinic, whole grains like brown rice can help the bold effectively use insulin, maintain a healthier weight, and increase potassium levels. However, quinoa has also been shown in studies to have similar effects on the body, making the two ingredients comparable health foods.

So, What’s Best?

While white rice is fairly devoid of nutritional value and will always take the back seat in the health department, both quinoa and brown rice are super nutritious options that are good sources of minerals and fiber, are naturally gluten-free, and aid in essential bodily functions like digestion and blood sugar maintenance.

Quinoa and brown rice contain similar calorie counts and micronutrients per cup serving, and similar amounts of dietary fiber. However, quinoa does have slightly higher amounts of protein and lower carbohydrates per serving, making it narrowly more beneficial to your diet. Additionally, quinoa is a complete protein, unlike brown rice, which only contains a few amino acids.

In terms of mineral counts, while quinoa is higher in iron and magnesium than rice, brown rice contains more manganese and selenium. However, in their entirety, quinoa does contain more plentiful nutrients than brown rice, making it the more beneficial choice overall.

At the end of the day, whether you’re joining team seed or team grain, and opting for either quinoa or brown rice, you’re sure to create a healthy, nutritious meal that’s guaranteed to do your body good. To get started with either of these nutritionally beneficial basics, try out a quinoa dish like Quinoa TabboulehQuinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili, and Kale Caesar Quinoa and Chicken Salad. Or, break out the brown rice in dishes like Chicken, Broccoli, and Brown Rice CasseroleBrown Basmati Rice and Roast Pork Tenderloin, and Brown Rice Stir-Fry.

Ẩm thực – Grocery Prices Experience Highest Percentage Jump in Almost 50 Years

by Jenny G. Zhang

Full link: https://www.eater.com/2020/5/13/21257215/grocery-prices-spike-amid-coronavirus?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NATIONAL%20-%2051320&utm_content=NATIONAL%20-%2051320+Version+B+CID_480b6ec5cedc0bab692a62a04889e5ca&utm_source=cm_email&utm_term=Grocery%20prices%20experience%20highest%20percentage%20jump%20in%20almost%2050%20years

Plus, people are attempting Robert Pattinson’s disastrous handheld pasta, and other news to start the day

Mother and child wearing face masks in a grocery store.

April saw the highest spike in grocery prices in 46 years

The price of groceries in the U.S. shot up by 2.6 percent in April, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index released on May 12. This was the largest one-month jump in “food at home” costs since February 1974, CNBC reports.

The price of meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, in particular, rose amid reported shortages during the pandemic, with a 4.3 percent increase compared to last month. Other grocery categories also saw higher prices as people continue to shelter at home: cereals and bakery products (2.9 percent, the steepest single-month increase on record, per the Washington Post), dairy and related products (1.5 percent), fruits and vegetables (1.5 percent), nonalcoholic beverages (2.9 percent), and other food at home (1.9 percent).

These grocery numbers are an outlier among overall trends in the U.S., where sales and prices have generally fallen, especially in categories like gasoline (-20.6 percent, per the price index), airline fares (-15.2 percent), and apparel (-4.7 percent).

Geri Henchy, director of nutrition policy for the Food Research & Action Center, tells the Post that the inflated grocery prices are due to a shift in where consumers buy their goods (significantly more people are eating at home now, rather than at restaurants), as well as supply chain disruptions. The higher prices are just another burden on top of already strained economic resources for families, marginalized communities, and people who may have lost their jobs.

And in other news…

  • Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons, is considering how their restaurants need to change “possibly forever,” with one option being face masks as a mandatory part of standard uniforms, said the CEO. [NRN]
  • More businesses are adopting contactless payment due to fears over handling cash that could be contaminated with viral droplets. [Modern Retail]
  • How White Claw became a meme and a favorite beverage for “militant gun rights shitposters.” [Mel Magazine]
  • Making Robert Pattinson’s microwave pasta. [Mel Magazine]

• All AM Intel Coverage [E]

Ẩm thực – To Evade Pre-Prohibition Drinking Laws, New Yorkers Created the World’s Worst Sandwich

BY DARRELL HARTMAN

Full link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/raines-sandwich?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=79f53ac17c-GASTRO_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_05_12&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-79f53ac17c-70327933&mc_cid=79f53ac17c&mc_eid=df51e46713

It was everywhere at the turn of the 20th century. It was also inedible.

Three men feast on free lunch in this drawing by Charles Dana Gibson.

NEAR THE END OF THE 19th century, New Yorkers out for a drink partook in one of the more unusual rituals in the annals of hospitality. When they ordered an ale or whisky, the waiter or bartender would bring it out with a sandwich. Generally speaking, the sandwich was not edible. It was “an old desiccated ruin of dust-laden bread and mummified ham or cheese,” wrote the playwright Eugene O’Neill. Other times it was made of rubber. Bar staff would commonly take the sandwich back seconds after it had arrived, pair it with the next beverage order, and whisk it over to another patron’s table. Some sandwiches were kept in circulation for a week or more.

Bar owners insisted on this bizarre charade to avoid breaking the law—specifically, the excise law of 1896, which restricted how and when drinks could be served in New York State. The so-called Raines Law was a combination of good intentions, unstated prejudices, and unforeseen consequences, among them the comically unsavory Raines sandwich.

The new law did not come out of nowhere. Republican reformers, many of them based far upstate in Albany, had been trying for years to curb public drunkenness. They were also frustrated about New York City’s lax enforcement of so-called Sabbath laws, which included a ban on Sunday boozing. New York Republicans spoke for a constituency largely comprised of rural and small-town churchgoers. But the party had also gained a foothold in Democratic New York City, where a 37-year-old firebrand named Theodore Roosevelt had been pushing a law-and-order agenda as president of the city’s newly organized police commission. Roosevelt, a supporter of the Raines Law, predicted that it would “solve whatever remained of the problem of Sunday closing.”

In his crackdown on vice in New York, Theodore Roosevelt supported the Raines Law.

New York City at the time was home to some 8,000 saloons. The seediest among them were “dimly lit, foul-smelling, rickety-chaired, stale-beer dives” that catered to “vagrants, shipless sailors, incompetent thieves, [and] aging streetwalkers,” Richard Zacks writes in Island of Vice, his book-length account of Roosevelt’s reform campaign.

The 1896 Raines Law was designed to put dreary watering holes like these out of business. It raised the cost of an annual liquor license to $800, three times what it had cost before and a tenfold increase for beer-only taverns. It stipulated that saloons could not open within 200 feet of a school or church, and raised the drinking age from 16 to 18. In addition, it banned one of the late 19th-century saloon’s most potent enticements: the free lunch. At McSorley’s, for example, cheese, soda bread, and raw onions were on the house. (The 160-year-old bar still sells a tongue-in-cheek version of this today.) Most controversial of all was the law’s renewed assault on Sunday drinking. Its author, Finger Lakes region senator John W. Raines, eliminated the “golden hour” grace period that followed the stroke of midnight on Saturday. His law also forced saloon owners to keep their curtains open on Sunday, making it considerably harder for patrolmen to turn a blind eye.

The Raines Law took effect on April 1, 1896. Progressives scored its first weekend in action a bone-dry success. Bars closed Saturday at midnight; the liquor flow on Sunday slowed to a trickle. RAINES MAKES A THIRST, a New York World headline quipped. But while the teetotalers celebrated over lemonade, plenty of booze-deprived New Yorkers were fuming.

It's no longer free, but McSorley's still serves its famed meal of cheese, crackers, and raw onion.

Behind this lifestyle tug-of-war lay a cultural conflict of national proportions. Those in favor of the Sunday ban, generally middle-class and Protestant, saw it as a cornerstone of social improvement. For those against, including the city’s tide of German and Irish immigrants, it was an act of repression—an especially spiteful one because it limited how the average laborer could enjoy himself on his one day off. The Sunday ban was not popular, to say the least, among the city’s Jews, who’d already observed their Sabbath the day before.

Opponents pointed out that existing Sabbath drinking laws were hypocritical anyway. An explicit loophole had been written into the law itself: it allowed lodging houses with ten rooms or more to serve guests drinks with meals seven days a week. Not incidentally, wealthy New Yorkers tended to dine out at the city’s ritzy hotel restaurants on Sundays, the usual day off for live-in servants.

Intentionally or not, the Raines Law left wiggle room for the rich. But a loophole was a loophole, and Sunday was many a proprietor’s most profitable day of business. By the following weekend, a vanguard of downtown saloon-owners were gleefully testing the law’s limits. A suspicious number of private “clubs” were founded that April, and saloons started handing out membership cards to their regulars. Meanwhile, proprietors converted basements and attic spaces into “rooms,” cut hasty deals with neighboring lodging-houses, and threw tablecloths over pool tables. They also started dishing up the easiest, cheapest, most reusable meal they could get away with: the Raines sandwich.

An idyllic scene of a New York bar, pre-Raines law.

Law enforcement declared itself satisfied. “I would not say that a cracker is a complete meal in itself, but a sandwich is,” an assistant D.A. in Brooklyn told an assembly of police captains as the first Raines hotels sprouted up. Remarkably, the courts upheld these definitions of “meal” and “guest.” Reformers were understandably flabbergasted. The law itself was sound, Raines complained. It was the police and the courts that had made it laughable. He and his progressive allies had seriously underestimated just how far New Yorkers would go for a drink.

The court decisions were a turning point. With summer approaching, “Raines hotels” sprang up everywhere. By the next year’s election season, there were more than 1,500 of them in New York. Brooklyn, still a separate municipality at this point, went from 13 registered hotels to 800 in six months, and its tally of social clubs grew tenfold.

For the libertines of New York City, Zacks writes, the second half of 1896 was “too good to be true, a drunken daydream.” The hotel carve-out allowed drinks to flow at all hours. There was no obligatory last call, and the city’s liveliest drinking spots now offered cheap beds mere steps away. For Raines and the law’s other architects, this was the most alarming unintended consequence: their efforts to make New Yorkers virtuous had caused a spike in casual sex and prostitution.

On this 1899 map of Broadway, Raines hotels are marked with an "R."

The state government ratified a set of clarifying amendments a year later. The free-for-all atmosphere faded, albeit slowly. Still, for years following the passage of the Raines Law, a general state of confusion and case-by-case dealings reigned. Following a wave of enforcement in 1902, hotel proprietors arrived at a creative solution: charging a premium for the obligatory sandwich. The Waldorf-Astoria went the classy route, offering unwanted meat patties instead, but the result was the same: a 50- or 100-percent markup to each drink ordered. The police seem to have appreciated the clarity of this arrangement. As long as Sunday drinking remained “an expensive luxury,” the Times suggested, its excesses would be tolerated by the average upstanding citizen. And for many a Sunday drinker, even some of the poorer ones, the inflated tab was preferable to risking arrest in an illicit backroom. Raines himself saw this as “the only compromise that is possible in New York.”

The Raines Law tussle continued well into the 20th century. The New York Supreme Court ruled in 1907 that a Sunday meal must be ordered and delivered in “good faith” for the accompanying drinks to be legal. Under pressure, brewers started refusing to supply Raines hotels. A new state excise law in 1917 contained a minimum-room requirement that effectively prevented the opening of new ones.

But the Raines Law debacle was merely a prelude for what was to come. New York reformers had long allied themselves with the Anti-Saloon League, a civilian organization with Midwestern origins that would morph into one of the most powerful pressure groups in U.S. history. By 1919, the efforts of the ASL made nationwide Prohibition the law of the land, putting an end to such quaint half-measures as the Raines sandwich and replacing the Raines hotel with the speakeasy.

Stoic – This Is Not a Drill

Many of us can be forgiven for having thought that this life thing was pretty easy. The last few decades have been pretty good to us. Booming economies. Great technology. Our wars have had limited impact on our populace and our recessions have been short.

We were living, as one academic said after the fall of communism, after the end of history. All those tragic, bleak moments of the past…were past us.

There’s nothing like a global pandemic—one eerily similar to the plagues of the ancient world—to disabuse us of that notion. Nothing brings that home quite like hearing that New York City, the crown jewel of this cushy, modern world, had to set up temporary morgues to handle the growing piles of bodies. Nothing like hearing that millions of people are out of work to make it clear that this is not a drill.

No. This is real life. This is what we have been—and should have been—training for. “No role is so well-suited to philosophy as the one you happen to be in right now,” Marcus Aurelius said…as Rome’s empire ground to a halt and the plague descended upon the city. “Life is warfare and a journey far from home,” he said, as he battled invaders at the frontier for years on end.

We are living through history, just as Marcus was and all the Stoics were. This is not a drill. It’s time to put on our big girl pants and get serious. Get to work. It’s time to embody the philosophy we have talked about. It’s time to muster those critical virtues of Courage, Temperance, Justice, and Wisdom.

This won’t be easy, but it’s what’s in front of us.

Collection – The Daily Habits of Great Minds: Lessons From Nietzsche, Kant, Tesla, Darwin, Einstein And Hemingway

By Thomas Oppong

Full link: https://medium.com/kaizen-habits/the-daily-habits-of-great-minds-lessons-from-nietzsche-kant-tesla-darwin-einstein-and-c1d72eb46841

People with stable routines are generally more efficient, happier, healthier, and less stressful

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I have always wondered what great minds do daily — the tiny details that help them achieve their goals and purpose? Do they strive to read or work a certain number of hours a day? How much impact does their downtime have on their work? What do they think about in solitude? And why do some of them devote a lot of time to their work, while others spend very little but still achieve more?

Mason Curry’s book Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration And Get To Work has answered a lot of my questions. The path to greatness is paved with habits, routines and rituals.

The one true lesson of the book, says Currey is that “there’s no one way to get things done”. Still, some patterns do emerge.


Great Minds Stick To A Predictable And Stable Routine

Extraordinary minds start their day on purpose.

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Routine provides a sense of structure and familiarity. You wake up with a sense of ownership, order, and organisation of your life.

Routines are the secret weapon of great minds and have been for centuries. Many thinkers do what they do with iron regularity.

It’s how they function at their best without thinking too much about daily structures for high performance. Habits and routines free our brains from continual small decisions, so we can easily do our best work.

Poet W.H. Auden recommended a routine approach to better work:

“Decide what you want or ought to do with the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.”

A lot of highly productive philosophers and creative minds depend on predictable daily routines as a safe place for work.

Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher who became one of the most influential of all modern thinkers was an early riser and spent a lot of his time alone at the peak of his career — mostly by choice.

In his book, Friedrich Nietzsche: A Biography, Curtis Cate wrote:

“With a Spartan rigour which never ceased to amaze his landlord-grocer, Nietzsche would get up every morning when the faintly dawning sky was still grey, and….work uninterruptedly until eleven in the morning.”

“He then went for a brisk, two-hour walk through the nearby forest or along the edge of Lake Silvaplana (to the north-east) or of Lake Sils (to the south-west), stopping every now and then to jot down his latest thoughts in the notebook he always carried with him.”

And Nietzsche worked — a lot. He used almost the same routine to focus on writing, reading and understanding ideas. His schedule was disciplined, consistent, but a lot of wandering and thinking.

He once said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

Immanuel Kant, an influential German philosopher and one of the most influential philosophers in the history of Western philosophy was also a man of stable routine. Here’s his schedule according to Manfred Kuehn, the author of Kant: A Biography:

“He got up at 5:00 A.M. His servant Martin Lampe, who worked for him from at least 1762 until 1802, would wake him. The old soldier was under orders to be persistent, so that Kant would not sleep longer. Kant was proud that he never got up even half an hour late, even though he found it hard to get up early. It appears that during his early years, he did sleep in at times. After getting up, Kant would drink one or two cups of tea–weak tea. With that, he smoked a pipe of tobacco. The time he needed for smoking it “was devoted to meditation.”

“His lectures began at 7:00, and they would last until 11:00. With the lectures finished, he worked again on his writings until lunch. Go out to lunch, take a walk, and spend the rest of the afternoon with his friend Green. After going home, he would do some more light work and read.”

A life without a daily routine or structure is so much more draining mentally, physically, and emotionally than you can ever imagine!

Without a routine, life just sort of happens to you. The day either gets wasted as you try to decide what to do, or you find yourself tangled up in the wants and needs of everybody else. Routines help you achieve your goals.

Benjamin Franklin asked himself each morning (at 5 am), “What good shall I do today?”; every night before bed (around 10 pm), “What good have I done to-day?”.

He used this habit to help him focus on his most important priorities. What’s your answer to the question What good shall I do today?

Charles Dickens famously took three-hour walks every afternoon, and what he observed informed his writing.

Ludwig van Beethoven also took long walks after lunch, carrying a pencil and paper with him in case inspiration struck.

Ernest Hemingway tracked his daily word output on a chart “so as not to kid myself” he said.

Not only do routines and rituals allow you to do more, but, as with all daily structures, they simply give your life more rhythm, order and even pleasure.

Marie Curie, arenowned scientist and known for her huge contribution to the fight against cancer was literally described as a “mad scientist” or a “maniacal worker” because of how insanely interested she was by what she was doing.

Nikola Tesla, who made dozens of breakthroughs in the production, transmission and application of electric power maintained a rigid schedule.

He used to walk about ten miles a day, thinking through ideas for new inventions — the habit eventually becoming something of a compulsion.

“As a young apprentice in Thomas Edison’s New York office, Tesla regularly worked from 10:30 in the morning until 5:00 the following morning,” writes Curry.

History’s great minds knew the relevance of stepping away from work every now and then to think, make better connections and ponder over existing problems.

Studies have shown that regular downtime (taking breaks on purpose) boosts alertness, energy, productivity, creativity, and mental focus.

Although Charles Darwin followed a rigid schedule, he made time for contemplative walks.

While working on his famous theory of evolution, Darwin took daily walks to think, and most importantly to observe and notice nature. Walking the same route each day from his house, through shady woods Darwin referred to this as his ‘thinking path’.

Albert Einstein played the violin to take a break and think about his projects. claiming that it was in some ways an extension of his thinking and that it helped him to solve tricky problems.

Einstein apparently slept contentedly for up to 10 hours a night, on top of which he’d take several naps during the day.

Modern life, increasingly defined by unpredictability can be stressful. A productive routine can provide the anchor of predictability you need to function at your best. Pablo Picasso once said:

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

History’s greatest minds optimised their daily lives to get on top of their games. Routine was their secret weapon. Daily routines help us make time for what matters most to us.

Daily practice is a game-changer for your life and career — but it pays to review it once a while to find out what works and what doesn’t. That way, you can keep doing more of what works whilst wasting less time on unproductive tasks and activities.

Collection – A Deep Dive into the Future of Mobility

By FRANCESCO CASTELLANO

Full link: https://www.toptal.com/finance/industry/future-of-mobility?utm_campaign=Toptal%20Finance%20Blog&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=93871031&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_YzXfyFVQM_iwH-ZCpZSADQn05ALDmdZHaNYV1dAnAdKsKJvDpg-j4IzZ9NgCY6pNRPQdTldNjbeelaMzjDCTXP3nWWw&utm_content=93871031&utm_source=hs_email

Why Are We Buying Fewer Cars?

In recent years, the global auto industry has been experiencing a decrease in worldwide sales: COVID-19 notwithstanding, global auto sales are estimated at 59.5 million in 2020, a 20% year-on-year decline.

Global Car Sales: 2010-2020

Global Car Sales: 2010-2020

Note: 2010-2018 period shows annual average.

Car sales were estimated to reach 80 million in 2019, but ended up down on the year; 2020 is expected to show an acceleration of this decline as the COVID-19 lockdowns and its wider economic malaise cause consumer purchasing pullbacks. Restricted mobility is lowering demand for public transport and air travel, but people are not necessarily moving less. Enthusiasm for bikes and scooters (especially in dense urban areas) shows that alternative modes are being sought.

New trends are emerging within the space of weeks, such as micromobility OEMs (e.g., e-scooters, e-bikes, etc.) that are pivoting to direct-to-consumer sales instead of via B2B. The ubiquitous mobility sharing platforms (e.g., Lime) are also adapting revenue models to consider new consumer needs by offering daily, monthly, or even yearly rental plans.

Economic crises aside, there are other underlying reasons contributing to a reduction in the volume of car sales. First, players from different regions and industries – normally outside the traditional automotive set – are gaining ground. The automotive industry has become appealing for a wider pool of investors: tech companies, venture capital funds, and private equity players. New stakeholders are dominating investment volumes in automotive and mobility startups.

From 2010 to 2018, more than $115 billion of investment went into mobility startups, of which 94% originated from outside the automotive industry.

Moreover, new regions, especially in Asia, are gaining more significance within automotive production.

A growing wave of technology-driven megatrends is redefining mobility. The automotive product is changing, with electronics and software growing in prominence in terms of its value in a vehicle. Such features require skills outside traditional core competencies of automotive engineering. Vehicle software content is estimated to grow at a compound annual rate of 11%, making up to 30% of vehicle value by 2030.

The next decade will see a range of innovative headwinds shift the dimensions of mobility toward new horizons. Changing consumer needs are key, with the industry progressively moving from an ownership model toward a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) access model, especially for younger generations. Three pillars have given rise to this change:

  1. Alternative powertrain options
  2. Electric vehicle advances
  3. Popularity of on-demand service access

Social phenomena are influencing the rise of MaaS – increasing urbanization, population growth, and environmental concerns provide favorable conditions. New mobility forms are required to serve such needs, which is leading to predictions that our contemporary vehicle-centric system of fossil fuel-powered mobility will gradually be replaced by a consumer-centric one run on electricity.

Mobility is seeing a pronounced growth of investment in new technologies, which are influencing the industry’s transformation. E-hailing (virtually ordering a transportation service), semiconductors, and sensors are the principal areas of focus, all contributing toward the development of driving assistance systems and autonomous driving.

Automotive Investment by Emergent Sector: 2010-2019

Automotive Investment by Emergent Sector: 2010-2019

Generally, the automotive industry has always been an engine of innovation, because cars combine multiple technologies: chemical, mechanical, electrical, and (increasingly) digital ones. Cars are productive data centers – and increasingly – parts of larger mobility networks due to leaps in computing power, data generation through sensors and cameras, and cheap data storage. For example, if we look at e-hailing services and real-time data navigation systems (e.g., Waze), they offer both efficient and complementary services to existing urban mobility solutions.

Progresses in connectivity, payment technology, and voice and gesture identification allow automakers opportunities to develop innovative cockpits that can provide new kinds of content and enable in-vehicle commerce: e.g., in-vehicle digital wallets that allow the purchase of items directly from the car. In addition, Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology is gaining ground, providing a wider picture of a vehicle’s surroundings than traditional line-of-sight sensors (e.g., cameras, radar, and lidar), which makes it possible to detect connected objects in the proximity.

Modular design will play an important role in the future of mobility due to the changing function of the car. Many automakers are presenting multipurpose concept vehicles that can be utilized to carry people while providing more functionality for other uses, such as item delivery.

Considering the trends reshaping the industry, the most interesting ones that will drive innovation over the next decade are likely to be:

  1. Electrification
  2. Autonomous driving
  3. Vehicle-to-Everything
  4. Mobility-as-a-Service

1. Electrification Is the Growing Power

As automotive technologies evolve, new use cases for electric vehicles (EVs) will arise for them. Currently, electric vehicles constitute a small fraction of total global automotive sales.

Electric Vehicles as a Percentage of Global Automotive Sales

Electric Vehicles as a Percentage of Global Automotive Sales

The global share of EVs is expected to increase as government regulation ramps up incentives to encourage adoption. Stricter emission and fuel economy targets at national, state, and city levels are expected to continue, especially in Europe and China. In addition, the cost to produce lithium-ion batteries, the most commonly used format, is declining, suggesting future advancement in manufacturing and scaled production of EVs. Incremental steps to reduce EV costs will inevitably assist mass consumer adoption.

Furthermore, mobility industry integration with electricity grids is emerging. There is broader access to charging infrastructure, even if EV charging can create local constraints and stability problems on power networks – while in other cases, electricity companies are attempting to use EV batteries to help stabilize grids, a sign that renewables are becoming more diffused into incumbent networks.

In the short term, automakers are facing challenges of selling enough EVs to comply with rigid fleet emission regulations and fuel economy targets while retaining profitability. The urgency of this is encouraging rapid transformation – automakers are investing in startups to expand knowledge and expertise and to capitalize on change.

Predicted Sales Price of EV Batteries by Component: 2015-2030

Predicted Sales Price of EV Batteries by Component: 2015-2030

2019 saw the largest ever investment volumes going into electric cars, with automakers committing $225 billion to develop new EV models over the next several years. Specifically, Volkswagen (VW) led the way with an investment of $44 billion, with a goal of abandoning the development of fossil fuel-run vehicles by 2026 and selling 40% EVs by 2030. Another significant investment was made by Ford, which poured $500 million into electric truck startup Rivian.

Startups are currently focused on improving battery technology and building charging infrastructure for public and residential use. BMW and Daimler directed investment into charging infrastructure startup ChargePoint to help build out charging networks aimed at supporting their EVs. Volvo has also invested in FreeWire, a startup that delivers quiet mobile power and fast charging.

The pioneer in the EV field is Tesla, which became the highest-valued automaker in the world in July 2020, with a market capitalization of $290 billion. Founded in 2003, Tesla has reached technological leadership by producing a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. Its vertical and horizontal integrations into solar roofs, home batteries, and wholesale solar power stations with energy storage have augmented its knowledge base, scale efforts, and societal influence.

Tesla (TSLA) Market Capitalization Growth

Tesla (TSLA) Market Capitalization Growth

Other promising companies and startups involved in the EV development are:

  • NIO: A Chinese startup founded in 2014 that designs and develops electric autonomous vehicles, delivering premium service.
  • WM Motor: An emerging leader in the Chinese domestic passenger vehicle market, with a focus on mass-market adoption. The company offers affordable battery-powered electric vehicles, with robust driving ranges, industry-leading autonomous driving, and smart connectivity features.

2. Autonomous Driving Will Reshape How We Move

The progressive evolution of automotive technology promises greater safety benefits through Automated Driving Systems (ADS) that, in the future of mobility, could make driverless cars a reality.

Self-driving vehicles will progressively integrate six levels of driver assistance technology advancements over the coming years. The six levels range from Level 0, which requires human drivers to do all driving tasks, to Level 5, where vehicle ADS performs in every situation. The intermediate levels (NHTSA) still require human drivers to monitor the environment and perform some tasks.

  • Level 0 – No Automation: Zero autonomy, driver performs all tasks.
  • Level 1 – Driver Assistance: Vehicle is controlled by driver, some driving assistance features may be included in vehicle design.
  • Level 2 – Partial Automation: Vehicle has combined automated functions, like acceleration and steering, but driver must remain engaged with the driving task and monitor the environment at all times.
  • Level 3 – Conditional Automation: Driver is a necessity but is not required to monitor the environment. The driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times.
  • Level 4 – High Automation: Vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under certain conditions. The driver may have the option to control the vehicle.
  • Level 5 – Full Automation: Vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under all conditions. The driver may have the option to control the vehicle.

Autonomous driving offers significant benefits such as increased safety, time savings, mobility for non-drivers, decreased environmental harm, and reduced transportation costs. With regard to personal safety, already a number of current vehicles use a combination of hardware (sensors, cameras, and radar) and software to help vehicles identify certain risks and avoid crashes.

Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology adoption will be evolutionary. For the time being, it’s expected for Level 4 autonomy to become available between 2020 and 2023, with full adoption arriving later on. Improvements in sensor technology and in machine vision software are enabling semi-autonomous driving. Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) includes new capabilities such as adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and traffic and lane departure warnings, which enhance driver capabilities and assist in case of distraction or tiredness. Enhancing driver safety technology is the only way to combat car accidents, as ¾ of them are caused by driver incapacity to estimate the driving conditions.

On the hardware side, improvements have been made in automotive sensors that help vehicles detect and manage surroundings – a significant feature for driver assistance technology. Each sensor offers different strengths: Cameras recognize colors and fonts, radars detect distance and speed, and lidar creates highly accurate 3D renderings of surroundings. However, these sensors also have some constraints and cannot be used in isolation given the detection accuracy needed for semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles.

According to a market research report by Inkwood Research, the Global Advanced Driver Assistance System market size was $4.6 billion in 2017, with estimates of growth set to continue at a CAGR of 19.01%.

Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) Global Market Size: 2017-2026

Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) Global Market Size: 2017-2026

European automotive giants are leading the way in ADAS developments, aided by advanced manufacturing resources and governmental assistance, such as through Euro NCAP safety standards, which encourage the integration of the technology.

Some automakers are prioritizing advanced driver assistance rather than full autonomy. For example, Toyota’s goal is to develop a vehicle that is “incapable of causing a crash,” which suggests a future that is not necessarily driverless. Nonetheless, other automakers still want to achieve full autonomy, and the market value is projected to reach roughly $80 billion by 2025. Another interesting trend is the more immediate business application of autonomous driving for item delivery, as acknowledged by Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo division. Other industry players are also participating in the race for autonomy, most notably, processor maker NVIDIA, which is commercializing its technologies into driving areas.

Investors remain confident in companies developing the fully autonomous driving stack. Significant investment has been shown by Honda ($750 million) and SoftBank ($900 million), both backing General Motors’ self-driving division Cruise. The most interesting startups and companies involved in autonomous driving are:

  • Waymo: An autonomous vehicle company founded as a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. that is building a public ride-hailing service. It has experienced recent successes in scaling its fully driverless experience.
  • TriEye: An Israeli startup that makes shortwave infrared cameras for autonomous vehicles that can monitor the environment in poor weather.
  • BrightWay Vision: Another Israeli upstart that has developed a camera-based approach to piloting autonomous cars. Its night-vision technology provides robust ADAS functionality through integration of gated sensors and light sources within cameras and headlamps, respectively.

3. Vehicle-to-Everything Will Simplify Lives

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) refers to Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication: wireless technology that enables data exchange between vehicles and their surroundings. Specifically, V2X technology can solve the issue of sensors that can’t detect objects outside the line of sight by enabling cars to wirelessly communicate with connected devices on other cars, pedestrians, and roadway infrastructure. When devices are connected to the same wireless network, V2X enables cars to detect the movement of objects outside the field of vision, ensuring safety beyond the traditional line-of-sight sensors. By sharing data, such as position and speed, to surrounding vehicles and infrastructure, V2X communication systems enhance driver awareness of potential risks.

V2X technology can enhance traffic efficiency by providing warnings for upcoming traffic congestion, alternative routing, and reduced CO2 emissions through adaptive cruise control. Such technology will help mitigate traffic and minimize fuel costs for individual vehicles. The V2V communication segment, with its focus on safety measures, is predicted to have the largest share of the automotive V2X market. The Cadillac CTS and Mercedes Benz E-Class vehicles are already on the road with equipped V2V technology.

Adoption of V2X is still in its early stages; few corporates and startups are working on the technology, and even fewer are testing it. However, automotive V2X is projected to grow at a CAGR of 17.61% from 2017 to 2024 to reach a market size of $84.62 billion by 2024 from $27.19 billion in 2017.

Automotive Vehicle-to-Everything Market Size: 2017-2024

Automotive Vehicle-to-Everything Market Size: 2017-2024

The main drivers of market growth in V2X are: increasing concerns about transportation pollution and the growing trend toward safe, connected vehicles.

The most interesting players in the V2X field are:

  • Qualcomm: An American hardware stalwart that designs, manufactures, and commercializes digital wireless telecommunications products and services. Its cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology allows vehicles to communicate with each other and their surroundings, providing 360° non-line-of-sight awareness and a higher level of predictability for enhanced road safety and autonomous driving.
  • Savari: A US-based company that has developed and deployed a range of life-saving V2X applications displayed via dashboards or external smartphones/tablets. It has also developed Road-Side-Units to connect to traffic lights and On-Board-Units for both driver safety support and future road-vehicle cooperation systems.
  • Autotalks: An Israeli startup that provides V2X communication modules that address issues related to communication reliability, positioning accuracy, and vehicle installation. The solution has applications in AVs, connected car safety, truck platooning, and wider smart infrastructure projects.

4. Mobility-as-a-Service Is Redefining the Navigation of Cities

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is principally driven by alternative powertrains, EVs, and on-demand business models. Shifts are bringing the current vehicle-centric system of mobility to be replaced with a more efficient consumer-centric one. Originally focusing on ride-hailing and subsequently on car-sharing, MaaS has recently expanded into bikes and scooters, areas often referred to as micromobility due to a surge in investor interest and rapid consumer adoption. The light vehicles used in micromobility provide short-distance transport solutions for urban dwellers.

MaaS enables users to book various transportation services from apps, choosing e-bikes, e-scooters, taxis, or public transportation services in various combinations throughout their journey. MaaS has emerged as a viable alternative to personal vehicle ownership, and in many cases, it facilitates mobility across cities with subpar incumbent public transportation options.

MaaS platforms are arguably a more effective use of transport, given that personal vehicles are unused for 95% of the day. Shared mobility also allows users to avoid costs associated with ownership like insurance, tax, maintenance, and parking while still taking riders from point A to point B. Generally, the field of MaaS is broad, with four macro-themes at play:

  1. Software for personal use (e.g., Zipcar)
  2. Public transportation improvements (e.g., Citymapper)
  3. Shared mobility services (e.g., BlaBlaCar)
  4. Commercial use (e.g., CargoX)

The shift to smart mobility has already started, but to effectively achieve a societal shift, the adoption of a new way of thinking and widespread MaaS platform integrations is required. Users should be able to plan and pay for journeys by train, bus, taxi, etc. using one single application, or pay for an “all-in” subscription at a fixed price. Applications need to strive to manage all client transportation needs.

MaaS interfaces are moving toward deeper integration with transport network tools and journey planners to assist with real-time planning and in-app services like payment, bookings, and ticketing. Startups and automakers have also started to offer subscription services as an alternative to buying or leasing vehicles. While leases lack owners up to a few years at a time, such subscriptions allow users to rotate cars throughout the term.

One externality of social distancing is the slowing down of mobility industry services that focus on sharing vehicle space and ownership. As a consequence, consumers are pivoting to micromobility options, especially in dense urban areas. Various startups that were offering sharing platforms are adapting their business models to offer rental plans to effectively “ring-fence” a shared vehicle for periods of between a month up to a year.

In order to overcome profitably issues faced by sharing platforms, new efficiency-driven fleet management platforms are sprouting up. The pandemic has highlighted difficulties related to operations and fleet management, which has led to increased focus on driving down costs through efficiency. Superpedestrian in the US is one such example of how this is being done in practice.

Some of the most relevant players dealing with shared mobility and MaaS services are the ubiquitous Uber, Lyft, Bird, Car2Go, and Cabify. In addition, several interesting startups have recently emerged:

  • Moovel: A European startup that provides an on-demand ecosystem combining car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking, charging, and multimodality from a single source. As part of the joint autonomous efforts of BMW Group and Daimler AG, it will rebrand to REACH NOW, an application and multimodal platform offering optimized travel planning across a range of means.
  • Immense: A UK startup that offers fully integrated city simulations. It predicts the influence of new social hot spots and popular routes in areas, with the goal of enhancing the accuracy of transport planning decision-making.
  • DUFL: Operating out of the US, DUFL offers a premium travel service where luggage is transported separately from the traveler. It stores items in a personal “closet,” allowing users to “virtually” pack by selecting items from an app. Upon arrival at the end destination, users are seamlessly reunited with their luggage.
  • Mobility4All: A US-based startup that provides mobility solutions for disabled and senior citizens who are unable to drive. The service consists of fully screened and trained drivers, with real-time updates and communication options between drivers, riders, and caregivers.

Huge Disruption Brings Huge Opportunities

Companies and organizations should consider how to grow properly across multiple markets and segments and how their supporting operating models are structured. A new combination of cross-sectoral capabilities is required to build reliable solutions to move people and goods. Increased collaboration among players acting in different sectors will become essential for fostering innovation.

From a private sector perspective, change will not be driven by one company or sector. Instead, it will require unprecedented collaboration in order to develop precise and integrated mobility solutions, especially tech giants, which have the financial capabilities to support research and innovation in these sectors.

From a public sector point of view, cooperation between public and private, represented by big high-tech companies, must be encouraged as much as possible. In particular, governments should support the development of the four emergent trends highlighted in this article, with consideration toward how to drive investment into areas that can be harnessed for national gain.

The disruption is likely to be huge, and it will bring both great opportunities and risks.

Collection – Eating out(side): Restaurant dining in the next normal

By Stacey Haas, Anne Kronschnabl, John R. Moran, and Pepijn van Kesteren

Full link: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/eating-out-side-restaurant-dining-in-the-next-normal?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck&hlkid=c6d1290997704628b7dec63d11f78a76&hctky=2618809&hdpid=699e4763-a139-4755-99c2-db1561424a41#

Our survey of US consumers suggests that indoor dining in restaurants may not return to precrisis levels for months—or possibly even years. That means full-service restaurant operators need a new economic model.

Months after COVID-19 first wreaked havoc on lives and livelihoods around the world, much of the US restaurant industry faces a deeply uncertain near-term future. In particular, many full-service restaurant operators have had to adjust and readjust their plans multiple times, and are unsure when—or if—they’ll be able to reopen fully, given surges in COVID-19 cases in several regions. Even where indoor dining is permitted, consumers continue to be wary, as our recent survey of US consumers indicates.

In such an unpredictable environment, how should restaurant operators plan ahead? What should their priorities be? We recommend two focus areas: investing in the customer experience and developing a model that acknowledges the restaurant industry’s new economics.

A start-and-stop recovery

Following the initial US lockdowns, in mid-March, sit-down dining disappeared almost entirely across the country. Overall US restaurant-industry revenues plunged by more than 50 percent through April. Yet some chains adapted right away: many quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and casual-dining establishments rapidly pivoted to off-premise channels—primarily drive-through, delivery, and takeout—and were buoyed by a relatively swift, if uneven, recovery in May and June. Then, as states across the country reopened, street-side and sidewalk dining blossomed in some cities. Consumers, tired of cooking at home and eager for some return to normalcy, started eating out again. By mid-June, overall restaurant sales had recovered roughly 25 percentage points.

But the boost in business turned out to be short lived. The number of COVID-19 cases climbed in numerous states, and governors reissued shutdown orders. For several segments of the restaurant industry—particularly full-service dining—the recovery has slowed (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1

In several states, the prospects for a full, unconditional reopening look dim. The unpredictability of the virus’s spread means that some US restaurants may not have the option of welcoming guests into their dining rooms for some time to come. Local authorities could impose or extend dining restrictions for months. Even in places where restaurants are reopening in limited forms—for example, at partial capacity—some operators may decide that reopening at all would be unprofitable. Furthermore, even when restaurants are permitted to reopen fully, consumers may still not feel safe dining in indoor public spaces.https://view.ceros.com/mckinsey/coronavirus-promo-video-desktop

Anxious consumers

A McKinsey Pulse Survey conducted in June among more than 1,000 US adults who had visited QSRs or casual-dining restaurants within the past year indicates that most consumers are anxious about sit-down dining in restaurants. More than 80 percent of survey respondents reported medium to high anxiety levels about the idea of returning to dine-in restaurants—in fact, more than half said they would be highly anxious. This is in sharp contrast with consumer sentiment regarding drive-through dining, about which only 16 percent of respondents reported high anxiety (Exhibit 2).

Exhibit 2

The survey asked consumers to rate their level of anxiety regarding three types of dine-in interactions:

  • close or active interactions with other customers, either directly or indirectly—for example, standing or sitting near other customers, touching surfaces or items that other customers have touched, and using restroom facilities
  • close or active interactions with employees—for example, when servers take orders and when they bring food to the table
  • distant or passive interactions with other people—for example, when entering and leaving restaurants and when waiting to be seated

The first type—close or active interactions with other customers—is the biggest contributor to consumer anxiety (Exhibit 3).

Exhibit 3

These survey results align with those of a similar McKinsey survey focused on consumer anxiety in grocery shopping, which showed that people were much more anxious about interacting with other shoppers than with store employees. Respondents said that shopping for fresh produce—touching fruits and vegetables that many other people may have touched—was one of the main drivers of anxiety during grocery-store trips.Play VideoVideo 1Understanding consumer perspectives on restaurant dining

By implementing new hygiene and safety measures, restaurants can likely attract customers who feel only low or medium levels of anxiety about indoor restaurant dining. Putting high-anxiety customers at ease, however, will prove more difficult. Some high-anxiety survey respondents indicated that they don’t plan to return to dine-in restaurants “until a vaccine is available and the virus is contained” or “until at least 2021.”

Implications for restaurant operators

The takeaway: restaurants can’t count on indoor dining to return to precrisis sales levels anytime soon. In a scenario where the virus resurges in several US states, even if government interventions are partially effective, casual- and fine-dining restaurant revenues might not fully recover until 2023 or later (Exhibit 4). This scenario—localized virus recurrences and moderately effective policy responses—is one of nine economic-impact scenarios that our colleagues developed in March; it appears to be the one currently playing out across the country.

Exhibit 4

Against this backdrop, what concrete steps can restaurant operators take to protect people’s health and safety while also strengthening the business? In our view, two areas are of prime importance:

  1. making the guest experience as safe and positive as possible—and broadly communicating new health and safety measures—so that customers feel comfortable returning to restaurants
  2. developing a new long-term economic model, including partial on-premises dining and an expansion of off-premises solutions

Invest in the guest experience

Of course, restaurants that decide to offer indoor dining should adhere to the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as all standards and directives from state and local authorities. But it will also be crucial to introduce measures that reduce the anxiety of patrons. We surveyed consumers about what interventions would most reduce their anxiety about in-restaurant dining. As Exhibit 5 shows, the top anxiety-reducing interventions are increased sanitization, particularly disinfecting dining surfaces between customers; limited occupancy to maintain physical distancing; and requiring employees to wear personal protective equipment. It’s crucial for restaurants not only to implement these measures but also to communicate them broadly and make them highly visible to customers.

Exhibit 5

Develop a new economic model

The COVID-19 crisis has changed the restaurant industry’s economics, perhaps irreversibly. Restaurants must therefore come up with a new economic model to sustain the business over a longer period of time than they might have initially planned for. For most restaurants, the key elements of such a model will include several of the following:Play VideoVideo 3What restaurant operators should prioritize now

  • optimizing carryout, curbside, and drive-through operations, using the lens of customer experience—for instance, by reevaluating staffing, traffic flow, food temperature, and food packaging
  • making the delivery business profitable—for instance, by negotiating longer-term agreements with third-party delivery companies, leveraging “ghost” kitchens, and developing in-house delivery capabilities in denser markets
  • re-architecting the menu and pricing to focus on the optimal daypart mix and occasions, as well as finding the right balance of key value items, specials or limited-time offers, and high-margin items (such as appetizers, sides, desserts, and beverages)
  • introducing new ways of providing value to customers—for example, by offering grocery products, take-home items, or shipped product bundles through online food marketplaces (such as Goldbelly or Zingerman’s)
  • redefining and deepening customer relationships through direct digital communication, loyalty programs, and personalization
  • rethinking restaurant layout, flow, staffing, and standard operating procedures to align with the new off-premises models, daypart mix, and customer experience
  • reviewing real-estate strategy in light of major shifts in foot traffic and occupancy costs
  • making longer-term arrangements with suppliers of foodstuffs, packaging and paper goods, restaurant equipment, and other supplies

Restaurants must come up with a new economic model to sustain the business over a longer period of time than they might have initially planned for.

No doubt, every restaurant operator has grappled with these issues during the past few months, but in many cases they’ve formulated short-term solutions in the expectation of a relatively rapid recovery. The sooner they acknowledge and plan for the industry’s new longer-term economics, the better their chances of surviving the crisis and thriving in the next normal.


In light of virus resurgence, anxious consumers, and continuing uncertainty, US restaurant operators have little choice but to become more agile and resilient than they’ve ever had to be. The brief recovery in May and June offers strong evidence that consumers crave the restaurant experience and will return to eating in restaurant dining rooms as soon as they feel it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, operators will need to summon all their resourcefulness and creativity to serve customers profitably.

Landscape – Most Approve of National Response to COVID-19 in 14 Advanced Economies

BY KAT DEVLIN AND AIDAN CONNAUGHTON

Full link: https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/08/27/most-approve-of-national-response-to-covid-19-in-14-advanced-economies/?utm_source=Pew+Research+Center&utm_campaign=e8d4cf0f46-Weekly_2020_08_29&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3e953b9b70-e8d4cf0f46-400737085#coronavirus-has-changed-many-lives-throughout-14-nations

But many also say their country is more divided due to the outbreak

A sign outside a hotel in Sydney, Australia warning people to keep their distance. (James D. Morgan/Getty Images
While many say their country’s coronavirus response has been good, publics are divided over COVID-19’s impact on national unity

Countries’ approaches to combat the spread of the coronavirus have varied throughout Europe, North America, Australia, Japan and South Korea, but most publics in these regions believe their own country has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of 14 advanced economies. Overall, a median of 73% across the nations say their country has done a good job of handling novel coronavirus, which has reached nearly every corner of the globe, infected more than 20 million people worldwide and resulted in the deaths of several hundred thousand.

But the pandemic has had a divisive effect on a sense of national unity in many of the countries surveyed: A median of 46% feel more national unity now than before the coronavirus outbreak, while 48% think divisions have grown. This includes 77% of Americans who say they are further divided than prior to the pandemic, while just 18% believe the country to be more united.

In addition, a median of 58% say that their lives have changed a great deal or fair amount due to COVID-19. Women in particular have felt the effects of the virus most acutely.

And in a quarantine period marked with critiques of actors ranging from China to the United States to the World Health Organization, a median of 59% believe more international cooperation would have reduced the number of coronavirus cases facing their country. Young people in many nations are especially likely to hold this viewpoint.

These are among the findings of a new Pew Research Center survey, conducted June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020, among 14,276 adults in 14 countries: the United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and South Korea. The survey also finds that public attitudes toward their own country’s dealing with the coronavirus epidemic and national unity are linked to feelings of trust in others and economic confidence in their nation.

Most people think their own country has done well handling pandemic response

More think their country has handled COVID-19 well, with the exceptions of the U.S. and UK

Across the 14 countries surveyed, a median of 73% say that their own country has done a good job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. Just 27% believe their country has handled it poorly. However, there is some variation by country on this assessment.

About seven-in-ten or more give their nation’s coronavirus response a positive review in Denmark, Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Italy and Sweden. And more than half in Belgium, France, Japan and Spain share this sentiment.

In two countries – the United Kingdom and the United States – people are divided in their beliefs when it comes to rating their government’s performance responding to the coronavirus. These two nations also have high levels of political polarization on views of the government’s handling of this crisis. In the U.S., 76% of Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican Party say the government has done a good job, while just a quarter of Democrats and Democratic leaners agree, a 51 percentage point difference. A majority of right-leaning Britons (55%) give a positive rating to their country’s handling of the pandemic, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, but just 26% on the left hold the same opinion.

People in Spain, which is currently led by the left-leaning Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, are also split ideologically on assessing their government’s response to COVID-19, but in the opposite direction: 73% on the left are pleased with how their country has managed the outbreak while 40% on right are not, a 33-point difference. Those on the left are also more positive on their country’s response to the outbreak than those on the right by double digits in Italy (18 points more positive), Sweden (17 points) and South Korea (15 points).

Economic confidence goes hand in hand with assessing national government’s COVID-19 response

Economies around the world have contracted due to the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus outbreak, and the U.S. Congressional Research Service reports that the global economy could grow between 3% and 6% less in 2020 compared with previous projections. These economic effects also relate to how people assess their own nation’s handling of the pandemic. Across all 14 nations included in the survey, those who think their current national economic situation is good are also more likely than those who believe the economy is bad to say their country has done a good job of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

This divergence is especially pronounced in the United States. Among those with a more optimistic view of the economy, 78% report that they approve of the way the U.S. government has dealt with the virus. But those who think the American economy is currently in poor shape are less than half as likely to give the government response a positive rating.

Coronavirus has changed many lives throughout 14 nations

Around the world, coronavirus has changed everyday life

Each of the countries in the survey have suffered the effects of the coronavirus. The number of deaths vary in the 14 countries from about 100 to more than 100,000 when the survey was fielded, and some nations completely locked down while others like SwedenJapan and the U.S. used different measures to attempt to stave off the virus. Across the 14 countries surveyed, a median of 58% say the pandemic has changed their life either a great deal or fair amount, while 42% report not too much change or none at all.

About two-thirds or more in South Korea, Sweden, the U.S., the UK, Japan and Canada say their lives have changed at least a fair amount due to the pandemic. (In all of these countries except the UK, the government never imposed a national-level lockdown.) And at least three-in-ten in South Korea, the U.S., Sweden and the UK say their lives have changed a great deal since the outbreak began. Majorities of people in Spain and Italy – two early hotspots – have also noted changes in their lives because of the outbreak.

In six countries, about half or more say that their lives have not changed much or at all since the onset of the virus, including 54% of the Dutch, 53% of Australians, 53% of the French and 51% of Belgians. In each of these six nations except Australia, governments did put in place national-level lockdowns to counter the spread of COVID-19.

Women more likely than men to say their lives have changed because of COVID-19

In 12 of the 14 countries surveyed, women are more likely than men to say their lives have changed due to the coronavirus. In nine of those countries, the gender gap reaches double digits – including in Sweden, the U.S. and France, where women were more likely to say this by 15 points each.

The changes that women have experienced during the pandemic could take many forms, and data underscores that women’s burdens have increased both at work and at home. Women around the world typically do more unpaid work at home than their male counterparts, such as child care and housework, and this may be amplified by closure of schools and day care centers to combat the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a higher share of women than men in each of the surveyed countries participate in part-time employment, which is more likely to have been interrupted by the pandemic. And a report from Citi asserts that coronavirus-related job losses have disproportionately affected women globally.

(Previous Center research from March also showed American women were more likely than their male counterparts to say their personal life had changed in a major way due to the virus.)

Little consensus on whether the pandemic has brought people together

Americans stand out in belief that their country is more divided now than before coronavirus outbreak

The degree to which civic division has changed since the coronavirus emerged is itself a divisive question. When asked if their country is now more united or more divided than before the coronavirus outbreak, people in many countries are split, with a 14-country median of 46% saying their country is more united and 48% saying their country is more divided. (Since the onset of the coronavirus, countries in the survey have also experienced the effects of a global recession and protests related to the death of George Floyd, a Black American killed by a White police officer in May, among other events.)

In the U.S., where a patchwork of coronavirus-related restrictions reflects broad disagreement over the best path to economic recovery while mitigating the spread of the virus, roughly three-quarters say that the U.S. is more divided than before the coronavirus outbreak. Only about two-in-ten Americans say that the country has become more united. Though Americans of all ideological tilts say the country has become more divided, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (81%) are more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners (74%) to say division has increased.

In contrast, nearly three-quarters in Denmark say there is more unity now than before the coronavirus outbreak. More than half in Canada, Sweden, South Korea and Australia also say their countries have become more united since the coronavirus outbreak.

In every country surveyed, those who think their country has done a bad job of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak are more likely to say that their country is now more divided. This is particularly true in South Korea, where 74% of those who believe South Korea has done a bad job of dealing with the coronavirus say their country is now more divided, compared with just 29% among those who say their country has done a good job of dealing with the pandemic, a 45-point difference.

Right-wing populist party supporters in Europe see more division since coronavirus outbreak

In Europe, those who have favorable opinions of right-wing populist parties are more likely than those with unfavorable views to say division has grown since the coronavirus outbreak began. This is especially true in Germany, where thousands have gathered to protest coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks, including some protestors affiliated with the far right. Fully 75% of Germans with a favorable opinion of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party say Germany is now more divided than before the coronavirus outbreak, compared with 51% of those with an unfavorable view of AfD.

Other countries that have seen similar protests against prolonged lockdowns, including the Netherlands and Spain, also show gaps between those with favorable and unfavorable views of right-wing populist parties in their country.

Those with less trust more likely than high trusters to see national divisions in the wake of coronavirus

Feelings of national disunity are tied to feelings of distrust as well. In many countries, those who say that, in general, most people cannot be trusted are more likely to say their country is now more divided than those who say most people can be trusted. In 11 of 14 countries surveyed, this gap exceeds 10 percentage points.

France is a particularly stark example. A majority (63%) of those who say most people cannot be trusted also say the country is more divided now than before the coronavirus outbreak; fewer than four-in-ten (37%) of those who think most people can be trusted see more division.

Prevailing view that more international cooperation would have reduced coronavirus cases

As confirmed cases of the coronavirus top 20 million globally, many in the countries surveyed say that count could have been minimized through stronger international cooperation. A 14-country median of 59% say that if their country had cooperated more with other countries, the number of coronavirus cases would have been lower in their country. In comparison, a median of 36% say such cooperation would have been futile in reducing cases.

Missed opportunities for cooperation to reduce coronavirus cases are felt especially strongly in Europe, where failure to coordinate the initial response led to sudden and severe outbreaks in Northern Italy and Spain. More than half in seven of the nine European countries surveyed say that more cooperation would have reduced coronavirus cases.

Notably, 78% of Danes think the number of coronavirus cases would not have been reduced by international cooperation. A majority in Germany also say that cooperation would not have reduced case numbers.

Americans on the whole say that more cooperation could have limited the number of coronavirus cases. A majority (58%) of U.S. adults say that if the U.S. had cooperated with more countries, the number of American coronavirus cases would have been lower.

Younger people see more value in international cooperation to reduce number of coronavirus cases

Much as younger people globally tend to have more favorable opinions of the UN and younger Americans give higher approval ratings to the WHO for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, those ages 18 to 29 are more likely than those 50 and older to say that more cooperation would have reduced the number of coronavirus cases in their country.

In Australia, for example, the difference between younger and older respondents on the question of international cooperation on the pandemic exceeds 30 percentage points. While 61% of Australians ages 18 to 29 say more cooperation would have helped reduce the number of coronavirus cases, only about a quarter of Australians 50 and older say the same.

In most countries, those who say cooperation would have lowered the number of coronavirus cases are also more likely to say that their own country has done a bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. For example, 64% of Britons who say cooperation would have reduced the number of coronavirus cases also think the UK government has done a bad job of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

Americans have largest ideological differences on global cooperation and COVID-19 outcomes

Whether people think more cooperation could have helped stop the spread of the coronavirus relates with whether they align with the ruling party’s ideology.

In the U.S. and the UK, where right-leaning parties currently hold national executive power, those on the left are more likely to say that more cooperation would have reduced the number of coronavirus cases. Those on the right are more skeptical of the effectiveness of international cooperation.

On the other hand, the left-wing Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party currently holds power in Spain and Spaniards on the ideological right are more likely than those on the left to say their government could have limited coronavirus cases by cooperating more with other countries. And in South Korea and Sweden, where the governments are technically led by left-leaning coalitions, a similar pattern follows.

Landscape – A storm in a TikTok

Author: Paul Haskell-Dowland, Edith Cowan University

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2020/08/30/a-storm-in-a-tiktok/?utm_source=subscribe2&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=postnotify&utm_id=287270&utm_title=A%20storm%20in%20a%20TikTok

US President Donald Trump’s 6 August executive order aims to force the sale of Chinese service TikTok to a US-based company within 45 days of the order, with both Microsoft and Oracle in discussions for a takeover and amid demands for the US Treasury to receive a ‘substantial portion’ of any deal. This aggressive action is the latest step in the trade and information war between the two countries. The threat to the app is fuelled by statements similar to those behind continued US pressure on allies to reject Huawei from critical infrastructure.

A man holding a phone walks past a sign of Chinese company ByteDance's
app TikTok, known locally as Douyin, at the International Artificial Products
Expo in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 18 October 2019 (Photo:
Reuters/Stringer).

This could be the beginning of a US equivalent to the Great Firewall of China. We are walking towards an Internet heavily segregated by geopolitics.

It has been interesting times for Chinese tech companies. Tensions have been growing between various countries and Chinese-owned platforms over the last few months. Of highest notoriety is the spat between the US government and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of TikTok. But the United States is not the only government to have Chinese tech in the crosshairs.

India recently banned over 50 popular Chinese mobile apps, citing national security concerns in a move likely triggered by the China–India border skirmish.

Government agencies around the world are banning internal use of the TikTok app, including the Indian military, and both the US and Australian departments of defence. Australia also has a Senate Select Committee due to hear from TikTok shortly in their investigation into ‘foreign interference through social media’.

The European Union just announced coordinated action by data protection officials to conduct investigations into TikTok privacy concerns. Japan is considering potential restrictions for Chinese-made apps.

No evidence has so far been presented to show that TikTok — or indeed any other Chinese-based app — presents any serious risk to Western democracies. Much concern appears related to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) June 2017 National Intelligence Law. Though many of its powers are not new, it is this law that the Trump administration is likely most anxious about. Any Chinese-based company can, in essence, be compelled by the Chinese government to provide data and systems access for ‘national security’ reasons. The location of the data is irrelevant, as the location of the owning organisation would dictate the application of the legislation.

TikTok representatives have stated repeatedly that data is stored outside China, typically in US and Singaporean data centres, and that they would not provide data if requested. The reality would likely be very different if ByteDance executives were faced with CCP demands and the likely consequences for failing to comply.

Yet the US Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, introduced in 2018, effectively places the same obligations on US-based organisations, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn: compelling access to content in foreign data centres operated by US organisations. What the US government is proposing would deny China a channel to access TikTok data if it ever wanted it — and therefore allay concerns over Chinese data access and influence — instead providing for US oversight of the platform.

This access would be subject to control and scrutiny with a perception of protection for civil liberties — rights not necessarily enshrined in China, especially around judicial redress and parliamentary oversight. These issues may not be of concern to some users but for others caught up in the technology transfer, they may be worried by US oversight of yet another form of social media. Perhaps it is naive to assume these practices aren’t already widespread — Snowden revealed, among other things, that the NSA routinely intercepted the export of Cisco networking equipment to embed surveillance technologies.

With many now describing a ‘fractured internet’, there’s significant concern over the impact of the US government increasingly exercising its powers with such actions as indictments against Huawei and this latest legislation forcing the sale or discontinuation of foreign apps. There are indications that the US trade war is set to escalate, targeting other Chinese companies and enacting further restrictions, such as on global marketplaces like Alibaba.

If the United States proceeds to impose control on foreign-owned organisations, it will have dire wider consequences. And like it or not, the US government has significant influence over allies. The Huawei debate shows how allegations — as yet publicly unfounded — block the distribution and use of leading technology the world over, costing years in lost technological development and billions in economic development. Is this the best approach to addressing concerns about the CCP and its influence over technology?

The concept of a Digital Iron Curtain is under heavy debate. If the United States implements further action against technology companies, and influences others to do the same, countries are going to face a stark choice between US or Chinese-‘approved’ versions of the Internet. Information and services will be a restricted commodity with access dictated by the government in your country of residence. This fragmentation of the Internet is a reversal of globalisation and the principles of free and open trade, the features of which allowed the United States, China and all other market economies around the Asia Pacific to grow to their current positions as economic powerhouses.

Paul Haskell-Dowland is Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Computing and Security) in the School of Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth.

Note – Blooloop weekend briefing: Expo 2020 | Raptors | Super Nintendo | Reopenings

Theme parks

SeaWorld and Aquatica Orlando are expanding their hours, opening seven days a week with extended event hours, but with limited capacity in light of COVID-19 and plenty of outdoor space.

Sim Leisure Group opened the Escape Challenge indoor adventure theme park at the Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya, a city in Malaysia. The theme park offers 12 attractions, but Sim Leisure expects it to expand.

SeaWorld San Antonio is switching to year-round operations in a bid to increase attendance, without any off season in 2021. The attraction will open on select days during the additional months of January and February.

Evermore, the immersive storytelling theme park, is appealing for help during a “difficult” year in order to invest in new content and entertainment, after being “hit hard” by the pandemic.

Florida could soon allow theme parks to expand capacity and welcome more visitors, while theme parks in California are “ready to roll”, according to a roundtable at Universal Orlando.

Universal Orlando Resort has been installing giant raptors for its upcoming but unannounced Jurassic Park roller coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. There has been no official announcement from Universal Orlando.

Construction of Super Nintendo World started at Universal Studios Hollywood, as first-look images of the Nintendo-themed expansion have surfaced online, unveiling mountain facades and set pieces.

Water Parks

Sarner International is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a new design and build contract by Qetaifan Projects for an innovative and educational water ride at Qetaifan Island North water park in Qatar.

Zoos and aquariums

Topeka Zoo in Kansas is set to break ground on a multi-million dollar expansion project to build a new home for its giraffes, ultimately increasing attendance and awareness. Design is nearly complete on the project.

SeaWorld San Diego has been cleared by local officials to reopen its zoo areas under state guidance, as zoos are now allowed to operate in California. It must keep indoor aquariums, rides and attractions closed.

Technology

The Virtual Online Museum of Art (VOMA), the world’s first virtual museum that features free-to-view contemporary and classic artworks, is scheduled to open in September 2020.

The Ark Encounter, a creationist theme park in Kentucky, launched a new virtual reality experience, Truth Traveler, with its first show ‘A Flood of Reality’. Visitors travel nearly 4,500 years back in time to see Noah and his ark.

Museums

The Museum of London is seeking a consultancy to create a new visual identity that goes beyond a logo and breaks the mould of current museum brands, as it prepares for the move to West Smithfield in 2024.

The Jewish Museum Frankfurt is undergoing a $58 million expansion. The new museum, which will showcase Anne Frank and her family’s history with the city, is scheduled to open on October 21.

The Imagine Children’s Museum continues plans for a four-floor expansion with an investment of $25 million, nearly doubling the size of the attraction, located in Everett, Washington.

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is now the first overseas museum to join China’s leading video sharing mobile platform Kuaishou. The service gets more than 170 million daily active users.

Other Attractions

Helsinki is planning on transforming a power plant into a huge arts and culture hub. The Hanasaari Power Plant, which is located in the industrial port area of Suvilahti in Finland, is due to be withdrawn from service by 2024.

Chris Wink, co-founder of Blue Man Group, is launching ‘Wink World: Portals to the Infinite’ at AREA15, the experiential entertainment complex opening in Las Vegas in September 2020.

The Bureau of International des Expositions (BIE) confirmed that preparations are on track for the Dubai Expo 2020, which begins in October 2021, despite the coronavirus crisis.

World of Wine (WOW), a new cultural and tourist district boasting six interactive museums and nine restaurants, has opened in the city of Porto in Portugal. It is one of the biggest tourism projects to launch in Europe in 2020.

Dubai-based Immersive Experiences (IEX) plans to double its portfolio over the next five years, and is recovering well despite the outbreak of COVID-19. The company launched XStrike, a live-action combat simulation, in December.

In depth

Scott Stulen of Philbrook Museum of Art talks COVID-19, #BLM MORE

Carolyn Royston of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum MORE

The Land of Legends: finding solutions during a pandemic MORE

Mississippi Aquarium: revitalising the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina MORE

Navigating COVID-19: bringing the magic back to shared experiences MORE

Top 5 guest expectations in the new normal and how to meet them MORE

Note – McKinsey: What the past eight months have taught us about healthcare

This week, experts discuss how the novel coronavirus is changing healthcare through innovation. Plus, Mark Thompson of the New York Times Company on a record-smashing digital strategy, and a dive into whether banking systems are up to the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.
Photo of gloved hands in a lab
Healthy choices. Last month, we focused on how prioritizing health could accelerate global growth for decades. This week, we look at health from a different angle: how the fight to stop the COVID-19 pandemic is driving changes in consumer behavior, speeding adoption of digital health services, and propelling other trends that could potentially change the face of healthcare for the better.

Start with a view of healthcare that encompasses far more than checkups and hospital visits. As Lloyd Minor, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, told McKinsey in a recent interview, inequalities—in access to fresh food and safe neighborhoods, for example—demand attention. “It’s a sad fact in America today that the zip code in which a person lives is a more accurate predictor of that person’s life expectancy than their genetic code,” he said. If a fundamental part of racial justice includes the opportunity to live healthy lives, we have to do better. Understanding the data is a start.

Ramping up digital health. The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up adoption of digital health services. Healthcare teams are leaning hard on telehealth to provide medical care safely and efficiently—to the tune of 5,000 virtual visits a week, according to Michael Fisher, CEO of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. McKinsey analysis indicates that there’s around $250 billion worth of US medical services that could be digitized.

Knowledge is power. As doctors, scientists, and researchers seek to unlock the mysteries of the novel coronavirus and race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, we’re once more reminded how crucial it is for decision makers to have the right kind of information.

An Rx from doctors. In healthcare, knowing a single, relevant fact about a patient could save that person’s life. McKinsey’s work in that area includes surveying physicians on the types of information they require when making decisions about patient care. Unfortunately, all the doctors who answered our 2019 survey indicated that they did not have the necessary information to personalize medical care optimally. For instance, while roughly 50 percent of doctors said they wished to understand a patient’s out-of-pocket costs, less than 10 percent said they had that information available.

More data, please. On the other side of the waiting room, consumers are frustrated by a lack of transparency. According to a different study on consumers’ healthcare decisions, 45 percent of respondents reported dissatisfaction with how difficult it was to figure out the cost of a medical service.

Let’s end on a bright spot. The promise of artificial intelligence in healthcare is another area where the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing the boundaries. Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott recently spoke to us about the remarkable ability of machine learning to help develop disease treatments, including vaccines, at a faster pace than we’ve ever seen.
The leap: Ten years in three months

How fast is the world moving around us? Faced with a sudden shift in market conditions and consumer behaviors, including a mass move to virtual channels, companies are rewiring for speed and agility. The major changes they’re implementing might have taken them months or years prior to the crisis. Check out how quickly e-commerce replaced physical channels in just three months in the US.
Average economic profit by industry exhibit

Pandemic delays development of innovative cell and gene therapies

Pandemic delays development of innovative cell and gene therapies
the Shortlist
McKinsey & Company

Note – Fisher: The Fed’s ‘Strategy Refresh’ Mirage

By Fisher Investments Editorial Staff

Full link: https://www.fisherinvestments.com/en-us/marketminder/the-feds-strategy-refresh-mirage?fiut=p

The Fed’s new inflation targeting approach is less than meets the eye.

For a decade now, the annual central bank conclave at Jackson Hole has been one of the most-watched financial events, with commentators salivating over the potential for major announcements from the Fed or its global friends. This year, COVID rendered the event one big Zoomfest, with no boon for that lovely mountain town’s hospitality industry. But the content didn’t disappoint Fedwatchers, as Chair Jerome Powell introduced the Fed’s new monetary policy framework. Some hail this as a landmark shift, but we think that vastly overrates it. Actually, we don’t think it changes much at all—for the economy or markets.

Specifically, the Fed updated its “Statement on Longer-Run Goals and Monetary Policy Strategy.” To see the difference, you can track changes here, but there were two main shifts in how it pursues its mandate to foster maximum employment and price stability. Before, “deviations” from the Fed’s estimate of maximum employment and its 2% y/y inflation target guided policy decisions. Very roughly, if employment exceeded a shadowy threshold and inflation topped 2%, the Fed would theoretically raise interest rates. If employment and inflation were lower, that implied rate cuts (or at least holding them steady).

The new language supposedly means the Fed will address maximum employment “shortfalls” and target “inflation that averages 2 percent over time.” The popular simple interpretation is that the Fed won’t consider high employment as reason to hike rates anymore. Nor would inflation topping 2% for a month or two necessarily be grounds for a move. But we think the statement and explanation from Fed Chair Jerome Powell show some, ummmm, problems with that interpretation. It isn’t clear what “averages” means. Powell didn’t explain how it is calculating it. Also, what does “over time” mean? (Two months? Six? A year? More?) To us, this vagueness counters the popular notion that the change automatically means rates staying lower for longer.

Our interpretation of this move is rather different. We think it reads more like the Fed is effectively ditching its 2% y/y inflation target, which it hit exactly three times since it became official in 2012. (Exhibit 1) For the most part, inflation chronically undershot.

Exhibit 1: Fed “Control” Over Inflation Is Spotty


Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, as of 8/27/2020. Personal consumption expenditures price index, January 2012 – June 2020.

Averages are made up of extremes. So an average of 2% inflation “over time” could technically entail periods of deflation and high inflation, depending on the Fed’s definition. But one thing it doesn’t need to entail in pretty much any scenario is inflation consistently at 2%. We aren’t saying swapping the explicit target for something nebulous and squishy is good or bad. It is just funny to us how few Fedwatchers mention implementing an undefined target means you have no target at all.

Another under-noticed factor: The changes imply less confidence in the Phillips Curve—the theoretical tradeoff between inflation and employment—which is something it questioned for years as ultra-low unemployment didn’t generate fast inflation in the most recent expansion. We don’t think it is a mystery—inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods. Low unemployment may prompt companies to raise wages to attract talent, but they typically factor in inflation when doing so. Therefore, inflation causes rising wages, not the other way around, debunking the wage-price spiral. Tossing it out of the equation seems sensible to us.

In our view, the Fed’s new strategy seems mostly like window dressing and doesn’t help predict monetary policy moves. There is scant evidence 2% inflation was an obvious rate hike trigger anyway. Inflation was near zero in late 2015 when the Fed embarked on its last tightening cycle. Making a squishy rule it never much followed even squishier doesn’t lend great clarity into how Fed heads will set policy now.

Getting hung up on Fed jawboning isn’t terribly productive for investors. The risk of Fed error is omnipresent, but you always have to judge its actions after they are announced, and this move doesn’t change that. Nor does it yield any insight into its likely behavior.

FISHER INVESTMENTS ® MARKETMINDER DIGEST

Note – DealStreetAsia: The Week That Was

Headlines this week were dominated by the TikTok dance of suitors. Investors led by Centricus Asset Management, in partnership with US-based video and music-based social networking app Triller, are reportedly the latest bidders for TikTok’s assets.

Their offer follows those of Microsoft CorpWalmart (which said it is looking to partner Microsoft), and Oracle Corp.

According to an executive order issued by US President Donald Trump earlier this month, TikTok needs to be sold by mid-September or be barred in the US. The buyer of the US operations needs to be an American business, according to the order. 

TikTok is already banned in India. Indeed, TikTok’s parent, Chinese tech company ByteDance, has already told the app’s engineers to prepare a Plan B, should operations in the US be shut down. And CEO Kevin Mayer quit this week after just two months in the hot seat. The week also saw us launch Data Vantage, a brand new twice-weekly newsletter that seeks to provide more insights into the region’s most important macro trends and deals. Sign up now to receive the newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday.

Other deals in the making  
Our reporters in Indonesia got wind that mobile operator Telkomsel is in advanced negotiations to invest in ride-hailing and payments major Gojek

Telkomsel is a subsidiary of state-owned telecommunications company Telkom Indonesia, which was said to have been planning to invest about $400 million into the ride-hailing company in 2018. 

In another exclusive, we reported that Quadria Capital is close to selling its stake in Indonesian pharmaceuticals company Soho Global Health to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.

Quadria picked up its stake in Soho through bonds that converted to more than 30 per cent interest, sources said.
Raising capital
Several funds in Asia are on the road, even as broader investor sentiment remains uncertain.

In our latest research and analytics report out this week, we found that Southeast Asia-focused funds found it harder to fundraise in the second quarter amid COVID-19 curbs on economic activity. 

Among those raising funds is Everstone Capital, which is preparing for its fourth buyout fund that is expected to be in the range of $1 billion.

The India and Southeast-Asia focused private equity firm last raised $730 million for its third vehicle, which has been mostly deployed.

In Hong Kong, early-stage tech-focused venture capital firm Click Ventures is raising $50 million for a fourth fund and plans to expand its presence in Singapore. 

Managing partner Carman Chan told DealStreetAsia that COVID-19 resulted in its anchor investor withdrawing from the fund. Still, Chan said, she is seeing strong interest from family offices, corporates and other investors globally.

Also raising capital is logistics giant GLP, which has launched new funds over the last few months worth $4.7 billion.

The global logistics provider this week announced a new Japan-focused real estate income fund, with $2.6 billion in assets under management at inception. The fund will be seeded with 11 newly-developed logistics assets in Greater Tokyo and Osaka.

In a less conventional space, US and Singapore-based agrifood tech investor AgFunder is raising a $30 million global impact fund, with a target to close by the end of this year. 

The GROW Impact Fund will be one of the firm’s largest to-date and will invest in 60-70 seed to Series A startups globally operating in areas such as waste management, climate change and logistics. 
Emerging opportunities   
Indeed, agtech is a growing investment thesis for private investors, who have committed some $4.6 billion in the first half of the year to agriculture technology that includes farm robotics and agricultural biotech.

Elsewhere, Canadian pension plan OMERS sees significant scope for investment in the growing markets of Indonesia and India. In an interview with DealStreetAsia, Ralph Berg, the Global Head of Infrastructure at OMERS, noted key opportunities in telecommunications networks, renewable energy facilities, and road networks in these two markets.

OMERS, which handles the retirement benefits of municipal workers in the province of Ontario in Canada, currently holds three assets in the Asia Pacific, accounting for 8 per cent of its total portfolio.

Berg said that while OMERS was in no great hurry to expand its Asia Pacific portfolio, there are such attractive opportunities that, as soon as within five years, India itself could account for between five and 10 per cent of the portfolio.

Here’s to deals picking up soon.
Michelle Teo
Managing Editor, DealStreetAsia

Note – AngelList: A frenzy of IPOs

Startups hit the public market

Alternate text

On Monday, 6 technology startups filed for IPO. Asana, Snowflake, Unity, Palantir, JFrog, and Sumo Logic all submitted their S-1s, marking one of the busiest days in history for SEC filings.


With the stock market recovered from its COVID-induced drop in April, tech companies are looking to cash in.


Asana, a work management platform that competes with Jira, reported 86% YoY revenue growth with over 1.2M paying users. Founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz in 2008, Asana made $143M in revenue this past fiscal year.


Unity, a 3D video game development platform founded in 2004, made $350M in revenue in the first half of 2020. Over 50% of mobile, PC, and console games use Unity in some form, including Mario Kart: Tour and Pokemon GO. 


Snowflake Computing, a data warehousing startup founded in 2012, has been growing like gangbusters, tripling its revenue to $242M in the first half of 2020. 


Palantir, a startup founded by Peter Thiel that sells data products to governments, also filed to go public. The company booked $742M in revenue across only 125 customers, with more than $200M of that revenue coming from its top 3 customers. Despite that, the company booked a $580M loss last year. 

If there’s a lesson to be taken from this wave of IPOs, it’s this: be patient. The aforementioned startups were founded in 2008, 2004, 2012, and 2003.

Funding and acquisitions

Lambda School has raised $74 million to support the company’s mission to unlock student potential. Lambda School runs virtual computer science programs for $30,000. Payments for the course are based on a sliding scale that only kicks in after participants land a job that earns at least $50,000. Lambda School will use the round of financing to meet surging demand for its programs.

Spacesa VR startup that spun out of DreamWorks Animation, has been acquired by Apple. Spaces most recently built a VR add-on to Zoom, which allows users to participate in meetings with an animated avatar. Apple has been developing its own AR/VR headset and has acquired a number of startups in the space. 

MURALa visual collaboration startup that provides a whiteboard-like digital environment, announced it has raised a $118 million Series B. The startup has seen explosive growth since the onset of COVID-19, tripling revenue and adding over 1M monthly active users. 

Socurea cloud-based identity verification startup, closed a $35 million round. Socure’s digital verification suite leverages machine learning and predictive analytics to authenticate people from “thousands” of data points. The startup then tabulates “trust scores” in less than a second and explains its conclusions in detail.

AngelList Logo

Note – Bloomberg: The Weekly Fix: Ripping Up Rates Rule Book; Twisting in India

Action Jackson

In years to come, one of the most memorable features of this year’s Jackson Hole conference will be the fact it was virtual. The meeting opened Thursday, but with none of the cinematic backdrop that sometimes upstaged earlier iterations. The venue — Jackson Lake Lodge in the Grand Teton National Park — was closed due to the pandemic.

Chairman Jerome Powell’s opening speech memorialized an important shift for the Fed, and how the market is to understand its behavior. Just ahead of Powell’s address, the Fed published a revised statement of its longer-run goals — the fruits of two years’ labor to better meet its mandate.

The Fed now aims for 2% inflation on average over time. That means policy makers will be more willing to tolerate an overshoot and, importantly, to allow unemployment to drop below levels previously considered inflationary, without triggering rate hikes. Or, to put it another way, it’s a bit like throwing the Taylor Rule “in a dumpster,” as Bloomberg Opinion’s Tim Duy deftly put it.

But to be honest the only really surprising thing about the unveiling was that it came a bit sooner than expected. The changes had in some ways been well telegraphed.

So why did long-dated U.S. Treasury yields hit their highest levels in more than two months?

One factor is that nominal yields are now just catching up with the longer-term rise in breakeven rates, which has taken the market-implied rate for consumer-price inflation over the next decade to 1.76%, from less than 0.5% in March.

We saw this week an extremely dovish shift in mindset for the Fed, according to Michael de Pass, global head of U.S. Treasury trading at Citadel Securities, as it’s willing to let the economy run hotter until inflation actually shows up.

“This tells you it is extremely unlikely that the Fed would preemptively raise interest rates because of a strong labor market where inflationary pressures aren’t above 2%. That is a significant change from where we were historically.”

Under this regime, the last tightening cycle of nine hikes from 2015 through 2018 certainly wouldn’t have started as soon as it did. It may not be a hugely relevant shift while unemployment’s still around 10%, de Pass added, but “it’s a green light for steepeners over the near term.”

Second, investors just might have been nursing hopes of a stronger sign of further stimulus, or at least confirmation that the Fed may soon tweak its $80 billion a month asset purchases to focus more on longer-dated securities. That prospect had been raised by Governor Lael Brainard, who speaks on the economic outlook Tuesday.

Third, the market’s dealing with a fair bit of fuzziness at this point. The Fed is clearly keeping its options open — as if, having finally unshackled itself from the Phillips Curve, it’s not about to submit to a host of other metrics. “Our decisions about appropriate monetary policy will continue to reflect a broad array of considerations and will not be dictated by any formula,” Powell said.

Barclays took this as a bearish cue: “lingering uncertainty about the precise path of policy should result in higher term premium.” Strategists reaffirmed their short position on the 20-year bond.

Of course, the Fed may be more forthcoming with specifics in September — primary dealers expect fresh forward guidance at this meeting, according to the Fed’s July survey. The minutes from last month suggest policy makers were divided over using economic data or a timeline — or both — to guide the market’s expectations. But, as many Fed watchers have pointed out, the Fed doesn’t have to do anything just yet. The market isn’t fighting it — rates are priced to stay low for years to come.

“A pivot to explicit forward guidance still seems a little premature, even with the framework review being announced sooner than expected,” wrote NatWest economist Kevin Cummins. He’s looking for fresh forward guidance at the Nov. 4-5 meeting — a couple of days after the U.S. presidential election.

The U.S. Election Is Nigh

The national conventions are done, so ‘tis the season. Though you wouldn’t know it given the lack of balloons.

It’s a mug’s game, predicting the market impact of an election. Exhibit A is the surprise victory of President Donald J. Trump in 2016. The stock market rapidly digested the implications of promised tax cuts and deregulation and marched higher, flouting the somber predictions of the few who’d bothered to contemplate such a turn of events.

That last doozy hasn’t prevented Wall Street from churning out note upon note about the implications of a Trump win, a Biden win or a blue wave. And when it comes to the bond market, they tend to couch their views in what these scenarios mean for the central bank, which is by far the strongest hand in what happens to interest rates.

Like most, Bank of America has streamlined its scenario analysis by jettisoning the quaint notion of bipartisanship, and considering the upshot of gridlock versus a sweep of both houses.

Gridlock implies limited fiscal stimulus, meaning the Fed “could become significantly more engaged with yield curve control or larger QE purchases, or purchases further out the curve — or all of these” to offset the government’s reduced appetite for spending, according to Ralph Axel.

That could mean much wider long-end spreads. The case for tighter spreads would be a Democratic sweep, implying a bigger fiscal response with less action from the Fed.

While they’re leaning toward the tighter scenario, “the risk/reward has turned less favorable with the recent fiscal impasse, which not only threatens less Treasury supply, but substantially larger Fed QE.”

For its part, Goldman is looking at rates market conditions rather than the outcome. They suspect this year’s event could be more than usually tumultuous, and while a jump in volatility is now detectable in the three-month swaptions spanning election night, the market may be too complacent about the weeks after.

The market isn’t yet reflecting the more prolonged ructions that typically come with a switching in the governing party, or a clean sweep of Congress, according to rates strategist William Marshall. Moreover, thanks to the Fed having anchored the front end of the Treasury curve, he reckons any volatility is likely to hit the 5-to-10-year stretch more than the 2-to-10 year that’s typically taken the brunt.

Twist in India’s Tale

The one silver lining for parts of the developing world in this pandemic-stricken global economy has been some newfound flexibility to ease policy. In Asia, the U.S. dollar’s weakness has helped stem capital flight, allowing local currencies to strengthen, curbing inflationary pressure. Against this backdrop, Indonesia has made a foray into monetizing its debt.

This week, India’s markets showed the limitations of this flexibility, demanding more than the central bank can hope to deliver in an economy threatened with stagflation.

The Reserve Bank of India finally resolved the “will they, won’t they” debate over its plans to further support the debt market, with a Twist. After two poorly-received sales of longer-dated government debt, the central bank said it will purchase 100 billion rupees ($1.4 billion) of bonds and sell an equivalent amount of shorter debt in an exercise that started Thursday.

The move — which is similar to the Fed’s Operation Twist from 2011-12 — is the third since April. At their August 4-6 meeting, policy makers resisted further easing in light of rising inflation, preferring instead to see how a spate of rate cuts over the past 18 months would seep into an economy that’s been ravaged by curbs to fight the virus. Covid-19 infections are still surging, with more than 3.3 million confirmed cases.

The bond market faces a record 12 trillion rupees of supply this fiscal year. Yet the central bank’s announcement only briefly checked a further climb in yields, our Kartik Goyal reported.

The market is looking for a more regular commitment, says Ritesh Bhusari, deputy general manager for treasury at South Indian Bank, perhaps via weekly open market operations. Without further measures, he reckons benchmark yields could reach 6.40% in the coming weeks. The 10-year touched 6.20% this week, up almost 40 basis points since the start of August.

The broader fear in the market is that the RBI’s easing cycle is running out of road. Consumer-price inflation came close to 7% in July, and the central bank’s own survey sees an acceleration to double-digits in three months. And while this year’s economic contraction is proving tough to measure in the midst of an aggressive lockdown, it’s considered possibly the worst since at least the global recession of the 1980s.

Bonus Points

THIS is how you announce a symmetric inflation target (h/t Julia Coronado) 

There is $1 trillion stashed away in the U.S., and it just might save the economy.

This keeps showing up on my Twitter feed, so I’ll just put it right here.

The Covid bankruptcies keep piling up

What might a vaccine do to markets?

Redlining etched in the heatmaps of American cities

Don’t miss True Grit: The online book club

Bloomberg