30 Question Song Challenge — Madame Writer

I’ve done a couple tags on my favorite movies, but I’m surprised I’ve never done one on music (which I absolutely love). I was browsing Pinterest the other day (as I’m completely addicted—who needs Facebook and Twitter when you’ve got Pinterest) when I came across this 30 Day Song Challenge. As I usually don’t do […]

via 30 Question Song Challenge — Madame Writer

SỰ Ô TRỌC CỦA HÒN ĐẢO – The Island’s Filth

(English caption is below)

Video: https://www.facebook.com/MzungNguyen/posts/10210416923845484

SỰ Ô TRỌC CỦA HÒN ĐẢO.

Đảo Phú Quốc nằm trong chính sách khu bảo tồn quốc gia dường như chỉ là danh xưng để thu hút khách du lịch. Để xây các khu resort nghỉ dưỡng bên bờ biển, chủ đầu tư cắt xẻ các con đường núi, cạo nham nhở các cánh rừng nguyên sinh dẫn xuống biển. Công trình đô thị mọc lên như nấm với bê tông, cốt thép, đường nhựa, xe ủi… Một đoạn dài từ thị trấn Dương Đông đến Bãi Cạn, rừng xanh bị cắt xẻ, san ủi bởi VinGroup. Hòn đảo xanh mướt bỗng trở nên xôi thịt bởi các công trình công viên nước, căn hộ theo mốt phương tây lỗi thời y như các khu vui chơi giải trí trên núi Bà Nà. Vùng bờ sông ngập mặn nơi loài chim ăn trái Hornbills-hồng hoàng thường băng rừng ghé xuống ăn cây trái nay bị con đường nhựa và một khu căn hộ cao cấp lấn chiếm toàn bộ. Loài chim quý này bay xao xác, đậu bất an trên những cành cây vắt qua đường nhựa. Cạnh đó, hàng loạt cây rừng bị tập đoàn này đốt và đốn ngã.

Hôm trước mình ghé chợ Dương Đông, chạy vào con đường phía dưới thành cầu gặp cảnh người bán cò đập đầu, mổ thịt chúng và giao cho khách. Người bán hồn nhiên, người mua hí hửng. Thân cò gầy guộc toàn xương trơ ra dưới thứ nước thải chảy lênh láng trên vệ đường. Sau khi ngã giá, thuyết phục, mình mua lại tất cả 11 con cò mà anh ta có với giá 700 ngàn. Bảy con cò trắng bị nhốt trong lồng, hai con cò nâu khá đuối, một con cò đen mẹ kiệt sức và một con con bị gãy chân đang hấp hối. Lời khuyên của mình chỉ được anh ta gật gù tán thưởng yếu ớt chứ hiểu được nhẽ còn là câu chuyện của ngành giáo dục.
Mình và bạn lao đi tìm chỗ để thả, bờ sông thì xa, thôi thì bờ biển cũng được, nhưng phải nhanh, phải gấp trước khi chúng nghẹt thở và đuối mà bỏ mạng. Chiều hôm đó hoàng hôn thả xuống mặt biển óng vàng đẹp như quê mình vẫn thế. Chỉ có bọn cò là chưa biết bay về hướng nào là nhà.
Sau khi tháo dây cột ở chân, chúng bị tụ máu nên tất cả chỉ đứng thật lâu ở trên cát, bay chao đảo lên những phiến đá tạm chờ sức lực quay lại trên đôi cánh. Dân chúng quanh đó tò mò ùa tới xem, chỉ trỏ, hỏi han, có cả doạ cho chúng sợ. Thả ở một nơi đông người giữa phố như vậy là con dao hai lưỡi. Một là chúng có thể bị bọn nhậu bẫy bắt lại, bị người ta săn đuổi như thú vui. Nhưng điều thứ hai sau đó sẽ là một hình ảnh tốt cho những người chưa biết. Một người lạ thả chim về trời có thể chỉ đơn giản khiến họ nghĩ rằng đó là phóng sinh nhưng có thể sẽ tốt cho bọn trẻ xung quanh đó. Mình vừa thả, vừa canh không cho ai làm chúng sợ, vừa chờ cho chúng đủ sức để bay đi lại có thể có thì giờ trò chuyện với bọn trẻ con, nói cho chúng biết về lòng trắc ẩn, về lý do tại sao có những giống loài tự nhiên như cò không phải để dùng làm thức ăn.
Chiều muộn hôm đó, bảy con cò bay được lên trời, nom chúng có vẻ đã lấy lại sức. Bốn con yếu nhất còn lại không còn sức để bay và không thể để chúng lại trên bờ biển lắm người hiếu kỳ. Mình ôm chúng chạy khắp thị trấn Dương Đông tìm nơi thả. Vậy mà cũng phải nửa tiếng sau mới thả chúng được ở bìa rừng nơi cách xa dân cư một đoạn. Hai con tập tễnh đi về phía rừng, một con cò con gãy chân hấp hối và con cò trắng nhỏ đã chết trên đường di chuyển. Chẳng có gì trên tay để chôn nó, mình buộc phải đắp bằng lá cây khô, những vỏ tre xung quanh đó. Con cò mẹ đứng ở phía xa nhìn con của nó mãi không chịu đi.

Người ta nói “miếng ăn là miếng tồi tàn”, miếng ăn của tập đoàn lớn như VinGroup, SunGroup đã cạo trắng vùng rừng và biển, khiến đất nước tồi tàn đi từ ý thức đến hình ảnh; miếng ăn của người dân vô thức khiến mối dây khăng khít với thiên nhiên cũng tồi tàn tội nghiệp.
Chẳng mấy chốc nữa, con thú bỏ đi hết, rừng và biển cũng khô cạn như lòng người vậy.

Phú Quốc,
15/12/2017


Mzung.

The Island’s Filth

Phu Quoc Island is a part of the Vietnamese National Conservation Areas but its protected status is merely a way to attract tourists. To build the oceanfront resorts, the property developers sliced up the mountain passes and obscenely destroyed the old-growth forests leading to the sea. Numerous urban development projects filled with concrete blocks, steel columns, asphalt, and bulldozers, etc. appeared everywhere like weeds.
A vast amount of green forests stretching from the town of Duong Dong to Bai Can was cut down and flatten by the VinGroup developer. The lush natural beauty of Phu Quoc was suddenly turned into some materialistic thing with its water parks and outdated Western styled residential buildings similar to that of the amusement park at Bana Hill.
The mangrove filled saline area near the riverside where the hornbills used to frequent for fruits was completely invaded by paved roads and luxury condominiums. These rare birds scatter around and stand nervously on the tree branches stuck out onto the roads. Nearby, series of forest trees were burned down or cut down by the VinGroup Company.

A few days ago, I stopped by Dong Duong market and drove by the street underneath the bridge. That’s where I witnessed a man selling egrets, crushing their heads and slaughtered their meat. The seller carried out the brutality nonchalantly while the buyers were just eager for the meat. The bony body of the egrets were fully exposed on the cutting board mixed with the wastewater spilled over to the side of the street. I had to convince and bargained with the seller to buy all of the 11 remaining egrets that were still alive for 700 thousands dong (VND). In the cage, seven white egrets were still in decent shape, two brown ones were a little weak, a black mother egret was fatigued looking, and a baby egret was dying. The seller reluctantly agreed with my advice regarding animal protection. However, I know it will take some long term education for people like him to fully understand its importance.
My friend and I wandered off to find a place to let the egrets go free. The river bank was too far away, we had to settle for the sea coast since we had to hurry before they all die of exhaustion.
That evening, the dreamy and warm orange sunset looked so beautiful on the horizon just like it always was in my homeland. Unlike me, the egrets didn’t remember which way was home. Even after the strings tying their feet were cut, they still had to stand around on the sand for a while to recover the normal blood flow. They wobbled around from one rock to another waiting for the strength to return to their wings. The people in area gathered curiously to see such sighting. They pointed, asked questions, and even tried to scare the egrets away. We knew that letting the egrets go in an open and crowded area had its pro and con like a knife with two sharp edges. On one hand, they can be caught again for meat or hunted just for fun. But on the other hand, the sight of freeing animals could be a good lesson for the people to learn. Letting these birds go could only be understood simply as a religious ritual of “merit release” but it could also mean more for the kids around there. I was multitasking between leting the egrets go, making sure that no one scared them, and spending time talking to the children while waiting for the egrets to fly away. I talked to them about human compassion, and why it is not good for us to consume certain natural living things for food. Later in the evening, seven egrets were able to fly away after gaining back their strength. I could not leave the other four with all the people surrounding so I had to carry them all over Duong Dong town to find a place to free them. It still took me half an hour later to find a place near the forest and away from the town residents. Two of the four egrets hobbled their way into the forest and of the remaining two, one was dying with a broken leg and the baby white one died on the way. With nothing to bury her, I had to cover her body with dried leaves and bamboo sheaths. The mother egret limped away but still turned around waiting for her baby and not wanting to leave.

We, Vietnamese have a saying “mieng an la mieng toi tan” that can be loosely translated to English as “the fight for food is a dirty one”.
The economic lifeline of the big corporations like VinGroup and SunGroup largely wiped out Vietnam’s natural environment of forests and seas. As the result, the country became poorer in terms of its image and its lack of nature awareness also became worsen. The tight connection between nature and human is sadly broken because of human’s oblivion toward nature’s living things for the sake of food. Soon, the animals will disappear, the forests and the seas will be dried out just like the human’s heart.

Phu Quoc island,
December 15, 2017

Stop Reading Lists of Things Successful People Do

Who doesn’t love a “how to succeed” list? They’re fun to read and easy to share, which perhaps explains why there are so many of them. And the advice they give often sounds reasonable: The World Economic Forum published a post, in cooperation with Business Insider, listing 14 things successful people do before breakfast. It includes items such as drinking water and making your bed. A list that Forbes published claims every successful person shares this quality: “They know when to stay and when to leave.” This list, from Entrepreneur, advises readers to stop seeing problems, and start seeing opportunities; this one, from Inc., encourages readers to give up needing approval and fixating on their weaknesses.

But as palatable as these lists are, they can do damage. There are several reasons why they may be not only useless but also potentially harmful to decision makers, managers, and entrepreneurs.

Evidence is anecdotal. Most of the advice these lists contain is based on subjective interpretations of personal accounts, not on systematic, scientific analyses. Unless advice has been evaluated through evidence-based methods, you can’t judge its validity. In addition, half-baked analyses of anecdotal evidence often blur the lines between cause and consequence. Is someone successful because they avoided meetings, or are they able to avoid meetings because they are successful? A host of behaviors that successful people supposedly share — not caring what others think of them, avoiding meetings, putting first things first, saying no to almost everything — may be luxuries that only the extremely successful can enjoy, and only after they became successful in the eyes of others. Thus some behaviors are what success has brought them, and not the other way around.

Research doesn’t always transfer to different contexts. Some lists do draw heavily from research, like this 2011 one, published by HBR. But academic research is often very context-specific. Take the case of grit as a precursor of success. While psychologist Angela Duckworth’s research and TED talk on the subject are compelling, a recent meta-analysis on the effectiveness of the trait casts doubt on its extensive benefits. As often happens with complex problems, the solutions and their applications are more nuanced than the forms they’re presented in and depend heavily on the context and circumstances in which people find themselves.
Continue reading

How to Improve Your Sales Skills, Even If You’re Not a Salesperson

At some point in your career, even if you’re not a salesperson, you’re going to have to sell something — whether it’s your idea, your team, or yourself. So how can you improve your sales skills, especially if you don’t pitch people often? What should you focus on first? And what should you do if you lose a sale?

What the Experts Say
Selling has a bad rap, says Thomas Steenburgh, professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. “Very few parents say they want their kids to grow up to be a salesperson,” he says. His MBA students are no different. “Many of them tell me that sales is something they never want to do in their careers.” And yet, he says, “Sales is the most fundamental skill.” Scott Edinger, the founder of Edinger Consulting Group and the author of The Hidden Leader, says that the resistance to sales stems from an “antiquated idea that selling is pushing people to buy something they don’t want, don’t need, or can’t afford.” But that notion is outdated. “Selling is moving somebody else to action,” he says. And that is part and parcel of professional life. “If you look at things you do over the course of your day, from internal meetings with colleagues to clients calls, almost all of your interactions involve some form of selling.” Here’s how to get better at it.

Reflect
Getting comfortable with sales requires an “understanding of what selling is,” says Edinger. Move beyond the used car salesman cliché. “Selling is not about putting undue pressure on and talking incessantly,” all while “wearing a light blue polyester suit,” he says. Rather, selling “is persuading, inspiring, and leading.” Your goal is “to work in collaboration” with a client or colleague “to drive change.” To get into the right mindset, Steenburgh recommends reflecting on your past positive experiences as a customer. “When you think about the best sales interactions you’ve had in your life, it’s almost like the salesperson wasn’t there,” he says. The seller was just “a person who’d taken a genuine interest in your problem and was helping you solve it.”

Put yourself in your counterpart’s shoes
“People buy for two reasons,” says Steenburgh. They either have a business problem that needs to be solved or they have a personal need, such as a desire to move up in the organization” that your idea helps accelerate. It’s your job to figure out your customer’s motivations: “What would it take to get your boss to sign off on a project or to get your clients excited about what you have to offer?” says Edinger. Do your research by talking with the people you’re trying to win over, and others in the know, well in advance of making your proposal. Think about what information you need to uncover. “Be empathetic. Focus on understanding the other party — what they need to accomplish and how they measure success.” This will help you tailor your recommendations. Continue reading

Moderator Chris Wallace was the real hero of the final US presidential debate — Quartz

It’s over! If you’re reading this, you survived the 2016 US presidential debates. Tonight (Oct. 19), the last debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Chris Wallace, an anchor for Fox News, was the moderator and, well… … he did very well. Some might even call him a hero,…

via Moderator Chris Wallace was the real hero of the final US presidential debate — Quartz

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SAVE LARUNG GAR MONASTERY IN TIBET

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https://www.change.org/p/united-nations-human-rights-council-save-larung-gar-world-s-largest-buddhist-monastery-home-to-10-000-facing-demolition

On July 20, 2016, the destruction of Larung Gar monastery & the Institute’s residences & quarters has begun in Tibet. As per reports, a large number of residences has been bulldozed & demolished by the local Chinese authorities to evict Buddhist monks & nuns from the Institute & the monastery.

The Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, which is probably the world’s largest Buddhist monastic community, was founded by Choeje Yishin Norbu Khenpo Jigme Phuntshok. The academy, as framed by the late Khenpo, has been serving as the wellspring of knowledge. It is also the home for many Buddhist practitioners and the source of happiness for people across the globe. The Chinese government has issued an order to reduce the population of the institute to 5,000 residents when there are well over 10,000 monks and nuns alone. The Chinese government also announced the planned demolition of living quarters, which would leave residential space for only five thousand members.

The obvious concern is regarding religious freedom for the thousands of monks and nuns that have renounced the world and made Larung Gar their home just to practice their religion. As the Chinese government continues to manipulate the number of monks and nuns in monasteries all over Tibet, this directly obstructs the practice of religion for many.

The world’s greatest soccer player just can’t catch a break — Quartz

Life has been good for Lionel Messi. He’s won the Ballon d’Or—given to the star considered to be the year’s best soccer player—five times, and led Barcelona to four Champions League and eight Spanish La Liga titles. But things don’t work out quite so well when soccer’s golden boy plays for his country. His Argentina…

via The world’s greatest soccer player just can’t catch a break — Quartz