Data, Info and News of Life and Economy

Daily Archives: March 14, 2022

Chart: 中國国内油价迎来五连涨

Source : Sohu

In Pictures: Food of Narisawa in Tokyo, Japan

Innovative Japanese Cuisine

No.19 of the World’s Best 50 Restaurants 2021

Historical Map of the USSR vs. Map of Russia After the Breakup of Soviet Union

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Source : Visual Capitalist and Map Collection

Anyone Can be Trained to be Creative, Researchers Say

Jeff Grabmeier wrote . . . . . . . . .

Researchers have developed a new method for training people to be creative, one that shows promise of succeeding far better than current ways of sparking innovation.

This new method, based on narrative theory, helps people be creative in the way children and artists are: By making up stories that imagine alternative worlds, shift perspective and generate unexpected actions.

The narrative method works by recognizing that we’re all creative, said Angus Fletcher, who developed the method and is a professor of English and a member of The Ohio State University’s Project Narrative.

“We as a society radically undervalue the creativity of kids and many others because we are obsessed with the idea that some people are more creative than others,” Fletcher said.

“But the reality is that we’re just not training creativity in the right way.”

Fletcher and Mike Benveniste, also of Project Narrative, discussed the narrative method of training creativity in a just-published article in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

The two researchers successfully used the narrative approach to train members of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College. Fletcher wrote a publicly available training guide based on his methods that was tailored to officers and advanced enlisted personnel.

They have also worked with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Ohio State College of Engineering and several Fortune 50 companies to teach creativity to their staffs and students.

The current foundation of creativity training is the technique known as divergent thinking, which has been in use since the 1950s. It is a “computational approach” to creativity that treats the brain as a logic machine, Fletcher said.

It works through exercises designed to, among other things, expand working memory, foster analogical thinking and promote problem-solving.

But divergent thinking hasn’t delivered the results that many hoped for, Fletcher said. A major issue is that its computational approach relies on data and information about the problems and successes of the past.

“What it can’t do is help prepare people for new challenges that we know little about today. It can’t come up with truly original actions,” Fletcher said. “But the human brain’s narrative machinery can.”

The narrative method of training for creativity uses many of the techniques that writers use to create stories. One is to develop new worlds in your mind. For example, employees at a company might be asked to think about their most unusual customer – then imagine a world in which all their customers were like that. How would that change their business? What would they have to do to survive?

Another technique is perspective-shifting. An executive at a company might be asked to answer a problem by thinking like another member of their team.

The point of using these techniques and others like them is not that the scenarios you dream up will actually happen, Fletcher said.

“Creativity isn’t about guessing the future correctly. It’s about making yourself open to imagining radically different possibilities,” he said.

“When you do that, you can respond more quickly and nimbly to the changes that do occur.”

Fletcher noted that the narrative approach of training creativity through telling stories resembles how young children are creative – and research shows that young children are more imaginatively creative than adults.

But the ability of children to perform creative tasks drops after four or five years of schooling, according to studies. That’s when children begin intensive logical, semantic and memory training.

The narrative approach to creativity can help people unlock the creativity they may have stopped using as they progressed through school, Fletcher said.

One advantage for organizations that train employees to be creative is that they no longer need to strive to hire “creative people,” he said.

“Trying to hire creative people causes problems because the people that leaders identify as creative are almost always people just like themselves. So it promotes conformity instead of originality,” Fletcher said.

“It’s better to hire a diverse group of people and then train them to be creative. That creates a culture that recognizes that there are already creative people in your organization that you aren’t taking advantage of.”

While this narrative method of creativity training has already been received positively, Fletcher and his colleagues have started a more formal evaluation. They are conducting randomized controlled trials of the creativity curriculum on more than 600 U.S. Army majors who are part of the Command and General Staff College.

They are also continuing to work with new organizations, such as the Worthington Local School District in Ohio.

“Teaching creativity is one of the most useful things you can do in the world, because it is just coming up with new solutions to solve problems,” he said.

Fletcher said this new method of training creativity “could only have come from Ohio State’s Project Narrative.

“Project Narrative is all about how stories work in the brain. It is the foundation that helped us put together this new way of thinking about and training for creativity,” he said.

“And Project Narrative is itself proof of the power of creativity. It’s something that Ohio State created, something that would not have existed otherwise.”

Source: Ohio State University

Charts: Effects of U.S. Fed’s QE on the Stock Market

Fed’QE vs. S&P 500

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Fed Funds vs. Margin Debt

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Fed Balance Sheet vs. 10-year Treasury Yield

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Source : Real Investment Advice

Masa, Already America’s Priciest Sushi Bar, Now Starts at $1,000 Per Person

Ryan Sutton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Masa in Midtown of New York City has long held the title of the country’s most expensive restaurant, a distinction it doesn’t appear to be in danger of losing thanks to a new eye-popping set of prices. An extravagant counter meal of wagyu beef, caviar-crowned toro, and white truffle ice cream will soon cost at least $1,000 per person, and that’s before a single drop of wine or sake is poured.

In the early aughts, a time of gilded, sometimes Marie Antoinette-style opulence in the New York dining world, a solo meal at the sushi den used to run an unthinkable $500 or thereabouts. Now, that wild number almost seems quaint.

Starting in April, a prized bar seat at the restaurant will jump by $150 to $950, according to the venue’s reservations page. Add on tax and the omakase service will run $1,034. Patrons choosing to sit at one of the tables will pay $750, a $100 increase. A spokesperson did not respond to an Eater inquiry about the new pricing.

Masa, it should be noted, is not an obscure private club for yacht owners. The chef, Masa Takayama, accompanied Anthony Bourdain during an episode of Parts Unknown, and has appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers. The restaurant itself received a maximum grant of $5 million from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund last spring, a pandemic-era program that most New York culinary establishments were shut out from. And Masa is the only stateside sushi-ya with three Michelin-stars, an accolade reserved for establishments so impressive that they merit, in the words of the Red Guide inspectors, a “special journey.” It’s the type of place that would theoretically justify a trans-Atlantic voyage.

The new pricing, however, allows for a more sobering superlative: Masa now ranks as the only high profile U.S. restaurant where dinner for one will regularly command $1,000 per person before drinks. Even amid Manhattan’s competitive fine dining scene, no other venue even comes close in price — with the exception of an over-the-top menu offering at Per Se, conveniently located next door to Masa at the Deutsche Bank Center.

Masa’s pricing has long trended in an exclusionary direction, but a meal for two that will likely run close to $2,500 after beverages telegraphs even more aristocratic energy, something to the effect of: If you have to compare the cost of a dinner with what you spend on monthly rent or an entire vacation, maybe this place isn’t for you.

Takayama’s hike is just the latest in the wake of upward price moves throughout New York’s high-end Japanese scene. Rising food and supply chain costs, along with strong consumer demand, have pushed the cost of a luxe sushi dinner into the $400 per person range at no fewer than seven venues across Manhattan. In that regard, the changes at Masa are not unexpected; the omakase spot is susceptible to the same inflationary forces as any restaurant. But with so many capable competitors serving intricate sushi meals in serene environments — a reality that didn’t exist in 2004 when Takayama helped jumpstart the city’s fledgling omakase scene — one wonders how much added value or luxury Masa brings at twice the price of its peers.

Then again, perhaps part of that added value isn’t culinary expertise or service, but rather privacy. Amid our Instagram-everything era, Masa is the only haute sushi spot I know of that explicitly bans photography. Those who violate this policy might be asked to leave without a refund, according to the venue’s FAQ page.

It’s also worth noting that Masa had just raised its prices earlier last year. The restaurant introduced a new reservations system in 2021, charging diners a premium for a promised seat at the smooth hinoki counter, where patrons can watch the chefs methodically craft pristine bites of sushi. Customers sitting at the tables, in turn, would pay less. That’s not a point to be overlooked: Part of the pleasure of sushi comes from watching a master turn raw fish and rice into edible art. No small amount of joy also comes from consuming the fish at its peak; nigiri sushi and maki rolls are often best eaten when a chef hands them to you personally, seconds after they’ve finished preparing them.

This is all why so many ambitious omakase spots don’t even offer table seating — setups where rice can turn cold, where nori can fall limp, and where patrons don’t get to observe all the nuanced craft. Masa, alas, is different. At these prices, it can feel less like an effort to provide the best sushi to everyone, and more of an exercise in squeezing the wealthy in exchange for better seats.

To be fair: bar patrons also get an extra wagyu-truffle appetizer.

So there you have it. New York has seen the rise of $5 slice pizza and $100 mains for one. Now we have the $1,000 meal for one. One has to wonder whether and when others will follow. In the meantime, Masa’s reservation books are wide open.

Source: Eater