The Old Man and The Sea
"The Old Man and the Sea" is a representative work of American writer Ernest Hemingway, which tells the story of an old Cuban fisherman named Santiago. At 84 years old, he is friends with a young boy but has not caught a fish in 84 days. He decides to venture far out to sea and finally catches a big marlin, but on the way back , he is attacked by sharks and only the fish bones remain. The themes of "The Old Man and the Sea" are courage, perseverance , determination , and pursuit . The novel showcases these themes through depicting the fisherman's tenacity and respect for nature. This is a philosophical literary work that has won widespread acclaim and is regarded as a classic in modern literature.
A Holiday at the Bird’s Nest
BEIJING — May 1 is International Labor Day, and China is still, at least in name, a Communist nation, which meant many Chinese enjoyed an official holiday last Thursday and Friday. They traveled all over the place — to national parks in the west, to beaches in the south, to villages in the countryside. Some, though, gave in to Olympic fever and made a pilgrimage here to the capital to visit the Olympic Park.
北京——5 月 1 日是国际劳动节，而中国至少在名义上仍然是一个共产主义国家，这意味着许多中国人在上周四和周五享受了法定假期。他们走遍了整个地方——西部的国家公园，南部的海滩，乡村的村庄。不过，有些人屈服于奥林匹克热潮，专程前往首都参观奥林匹克公园。
I was doing a bit of traveling myself on the morning of May 1, heading to the student district in northwestern Beijing to see whether people were boycotting a branch of Carrefour, the French supermarket chain. Some Chinese had felt insulted by the anti-China protests that marred the Olympic torch relay in foreign cities, particularly in Paris, and were calling for a boycott of Carrefour that day.
5 月 1 日上午，我自己做了一些旅行，前往北京西北部的学生区，看看人们是否在抵制法国连锁超市家乐福的一家分店。一些中国人对外国城市（尤其是巴黎）影响奥运火炬传递的反华抗议活动感到侮辱，并呼吁当天抵制家乐福。
My taxi driver drove out on the fourth ring road looping Beijing. It runs past the Olympic Park. I had just moved to the city, and on that drive I caught my first glimpse of the Beijing National Stadium, also called the Bird’s Nest. An imposing — some would say magnificent — structure of latticed metalwork that rises from the flat landscape, it loomed in front of me like a spaceship that had just plopped down on Earth. I might have been even more startled by the sight of it if heavy pollution hadn’t cloaked the stadium in a thick gray haze that morning.
The hundreds of tourists who had come from all over Beijing and other parts of China were having a grand time. They stood across from the stadium snapping away with cameras and cellphones. Families and lovers posed for photos. Their grins seemed to stretch all the way to the Great Wall.
The scene perfectly captured the feeling of pride that the idea of the 2008 Olympics brings to so many Chinese. In recent weeks, the violence in the Tibetan regions and the protests surrounding the torch relay, as well as the surge in anti-Western nationalism, had cast a long shadow over the upcoming games. But seeing how excited all the tourists were that morning reminded me that the Olympics still carries a message of optimism, and maybe even innocence, for so many people in this country.
这一幕完美地体现了 2008 年奥运会的理念为众多中国人带来的自豪感。最近几周，西藏地区的暴力事件和围绕火炬传递的抗议活动，以及反西方民族主义的高涨，给即将举行的奥运会蒙上了阴影。但看到那天早上所有游客的兴奋程度让我想起，对于这个国家的这么多人来说，奥运会仍然传递着乐观的信息，甚至可能是天真无邪的信息。
A friend went to see the stadium that night, and he said people were still coming from far and wide.
As the #MeToo accusations began to swirl, Josephine Phillips, a fundraiser in her 50s, remembered how when she was just 14, a friend’s older brother crawled into bed with her at a sleepover. She jumped up and hid before he could do anything besides touch her, telling no one. But years later, she learned that the friend’s mother had called her mother to say, “Josephine saw a ghost.”
She had suppressed the memory until the #MeToo movement.
“It brought back something that happened 40 years ago, and made me start thinking about it,” Ms. Phillips said. “It was everybody labeling and saying it.”
Now she is confused. Should she have told someone what happened at the time? Could he have done this to anyone else? Was the interaction really a #MeToo moment?
“I don’t know what #MeToo means, really,” Ms. Phillips said of the hashtag that started this cultural reckoning. “Does it mean you were raped, or does it mean you went out on a bad date with someone? Does it mean someone like me?”
Ms. Phillips’ 25-year-old daughter, Pearl Stanley, has no such qualms. Watching her Facebook feed fill with stories of women abused by men, she said she sees it as “intense, dark,” yet exhilarating and clarifying.
“Everybody pretty much has dealt with something that you could put on #MeToo,” she said. “The #MeToo movement just appeared, so it’s not perfect. But it’s here now, and it’s better than not.”
I too am a mother. How to talk about predators is tough. We have told our daughters not to talk to strangers, that their bodies were their own, to trust their instincts. We want to give them a sense of power and confidence, not vulnerability and weakness.
But surely the Harvey Weinstein revelations and the rise of #MeToo has created a new chapter in this mother-daughter conversation. Should we now be talking more openly about sexual harassment and exploitation? And if so, what do we say? Is it really that bad?
As I was thinking about these questions, I asked my younger daughter, now a college student, whether she thought there was a generation gap in the way women see the #MeToo movement. “There was at Thanksgiving,” she answered.
In my recollection of our family meal, it was not that the mothers at the table denied the existence of sexual harassment, far from it. But they voiced whether the reports were accurate — was the behavior really that prevalent, or that corrosive. “It’s only sex,” a 50-something female guest at the Thanksgiving table said.
But the daughters at the table, including my own, did not see anything “only” about it. They saw #MeToo in more starkly black-and-white terms, as a wakeup call to change society, and as an invitation to men, even men of good will, to rethink their behavior.
My niece, 16, a Louis C.K. fan, talked about how saddened and betrayed she felt by the downfall of someone whose wit and intelligence she had respected—but glad it was clear that such behavior was no longer acceptable.
Another woman I spoke to, Deirdre Diamint, 52, said her 15-year-old daughter has been old enough to absorb the anger of the movement, but too young to completely understand it.
Ms. Diamint, who works in sales, has noticed that her daughter has begun to attract men’s attention on the street. She tells her just to keep walking.
She said she wants to teach her the resilience that she says has served her well.
“I don’t want to teach my daughter to be a victim,” she said. “I want to teach her to be strong about what she wants. I want to teach her to get up and leave. I want her to call me and tell me, ‘You gotta hear about this terrible date we had last night,’ and then we both laugh about it.”
Those conversations may reflect how far the women’s movement has come — that daughters are willing to speak out about abuse their mothers and grandmothers once learned to put up with. Their mothers have been too polite for too long, the daughters say.
“They’re just too used to it,” said Ms. Stanley, the 25-year-old. She said that when she worked as a waitress in New Orleans, male customers seemed to think that they could get away with pinching her behind if they left a good tip.
But “you don’t have to say ‘it’s OK.’ You can be like, ‘I’m OK.’
sexual harassment and exploitation
BEIJING — At night on the edges of Beijing, the migrant workers who keep China’s capital city fed, cleaned, swept and supplied wait in fear of a knock on the door that could ruin their hopes of finding a better life.
Far from the skyscrapers and monuments downtown, squads of police and safety inspectors have been scouring the city’s sprawling outer neighborhoods crowded with laborers from poor rural China. Those living or working in buildings deemed to be dangerous or illegal are ordered to vacate, sometimes with just a few hours’ notice, before homes, shops and even whole factories are demolished.
Tens of thousands have already been uprooted in the city’s most aggressive drive against migrant neighborhoods that people can recall; many more migrants are wondering how much longer they can remain in their homes, or even in Beijing.
The city government says they are being pushed out for their own safety, after a recent deadly fire in a migrant settlement. But many migrants say the government is using the fire as an excuse to ramp up efforts to drive them out and ease pressures in a city whose population has already soared beyond 20 million people.
“Suddenly in one night my livelihood was destroyed, as if I’d been attacked by bandits, but this was done by the government saying they care for us,” said Zhang Guixin, a 38-year-old woman from the central Chinese province of Henan whose fruit and vegetable stall was demolished.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in eight years in Beijing, nothing,” Ms. Zhang said, standing beside the flattened remnants of her stall in Xinjian Village, a migrant neighborhood in southern Beijing where the clearance has so far been most intense. “Beijing doesn’t want us. We’ll have to go back to our village.”
The expulsions have been in jarring contrast to the vision that China’s president, Xi Jinping, laid out in October when he won a second term as Communist Party leader and vowed to build a prosperous society of equals. The drive against the settlements has left migrants abruptly homeless as winter approaches and asking why leaders of the party founded to represent the poor laboring masses have turned so harshly on them.
“Xi Jinping is from our home,” said Dang Hui’e, a migrant from the northwestern province of Shaanxi, where Mr. Xi spent part of his youth. Ms. Dang said she was ordered to move out of her apartment with three days’ notice while caring for her 9-month-old baby.
“Does this country have any laws?” she said. “The law is laid down by you, you’re the president, so what’s the good of the laws that you lay down?”
Xinjian Village was teeming with migrant workers and their children until two weeks ago. Now half the area is a field of rubble and debris from demolished buildings, and the other half is nearly empty and waiting for the wrecking crews. Remaining inhabitants packed their belongings into suitcases and boxes.
In the buildings they had vacated, bowls of half-eaten instant noodles and abandoned toys testified to lives suddenly disrupted.
“It’s happened so quickly, it’s hard to believe that this was my home,” said Wang Guowei, a migrant in his 20s from Henan who was dragging a suitcase along a street strewn with trash and rubble. He said he had found a new room in Beijing with the help of his employer, a car parts maker.
“I’m not sure how long I can stay,” he said. “Nobody is sure how long we can stay anywhere.”
A similar scene is being played out in dozens of migrant neighborhoods across the city. Migrants said they felt as if they were being treated as pests by Beijing, which already excludes them from the education, health care and housing benefits provided to locals with permanent resident permits.
“We’re all Chinese, this is our capital too, the people’s capital,” said Shi Yongxiang, a ruddy middle-aged cleaner from northwest China living near Banbidian, a village on Beijing’s northeastern edge that is home for thousands of migrants.
“How can Beijing get by without migrant workers?” Mr. Shi asked as two curbside vegetable hawkers nodded in sympathy. “We do every job that the locals won’t do.”
The migrants tend to live on the edge of Beijing in stretches of three-, four- and five-story apartment buildings that are often cramped, but not dilapidated. The streets hum with activity from supermarkets, cheap diners, hairdressers and cellphone stores.
Local officials have tolerated, inspected and taxed these buildings for years until the current crackdown, when they suddenly declared them illegal for being fire hazards, or for lacking permits.
“They never said it was illegal when it was built, or when they came to inspect it, or when we paid our deposits, but now we’re being told to move without any say,” said Luo Haigang, 42, a driver from central China who was scrambling to vacate his one-room apartment after being given two days’ notice.
The Beijing government has said the clearances were urgently justified by a fire in a migrant worker apartment in Xinjian Village that killed 19 people, including 17 from other parts of China. After that, officials hastily listed 25,395 safety hazards across the city, and said they had to act fast “to prevent the tragedy recurring.” The city party secretary, Cai Qi, ordered a 40-day clearance campaign to rid the city of safety hazards in migrant neighborhoods.
“Starting from today, demolish what can be demolished, don’t wait until tomorrow,” Wang Xianyong, a district official in southern Beijing, said in a speech to officials that leaked onto the internet. “If it’s demolished today, then won’t you be able to get a good night’s sleep?”
Initially, city leaders ignored the complaints from the displaced migrants. But as images of expelled workers dragging their belongings along streets on freezing nights appeared on social media, they ignited an unusually strong public backlash. Even some state-run news outlets have chimed in to criticize the rushed demolitions.
“They are people of flesh and blood, the grass-roots laborers who keep Beijing, this huge city, running normally, and they deserve the respect and understanding of every one of us,” said a commentary on the website of China’s main state broadcaster, CCTV.
Charity groups have also sprung up to help displaced workers.
The images of homeless workers “made me think of those scenes from movies of Jews being expelled without anyone saying a word,” said Liu Bowen, a 35-year-old professional photographer in Beijing who helped set up a service to find housing for displaced migrants. “I thought we should speak up.”
In essays and petitions, critics of the campaign accuse Beijing of seizing on the fire as an excuse to accelerate expulsions that have until now failed to slow the city’s growth.
“The bodies of the dead were not cold, and yet some people in this fine capital cracked the whip to expel the ‘low-end population,’” said one of the petitions.
City officials denied calling the rural laborers a “low-end” group, and suggested critics were trying to stir up social divisions.
But the city government has also spent years trying to reduce Beijing’s population of low-income migrants, using demolitions and sweeping inspections of residency documents to force them out. They have warned that Beijing was overstrained as its population has soared to almost 22 million last year from 10.9 million in 1990.
Of last year’s figure, 8.1 million were migrants from other parts of China — mostly menial laborers but also white-collar workers, some of whom have also been displaced by the recent removals.
The campaign intensified in 2014, when President Xi demanded that Beijing deal with its bloated population. The city snapped into action, moving factories, schools and markets out of the city to force low-paid migrants to leave.
Beijing has set a goal of limiting its population to 23 million residents by 2020, while also making room to attract more higher-paid, university-educated professionals.
Despite such efforts, officials have so far failed to deter migrants from settling in the city, largely because Beijing still relies on them to be its cooks, couriers and cleaners.
“They want the horse to run, but they don’t want to feed it grain,” said Zhang Yonghui, a worker in his 30s from Shaanxi who moved to Beijing a few months ago after failing to find work in coal mines. “They’ll get rid of us for a while, maybe for a year, but then quietly they’ll let us back because they need our labor.”
squads of police
ramp up efforts
in jarring contrast
vow to do
rubble and debris
be strewn with sth
In essays and petitions
stir up social divisions
snap into action
- a lot of plastic waste
- air polluted
- popular place for sports
- recommend to visit
- development in a area
- stay for a short time
- receive money as a gift
Nintendo’s Switch Brings Some Magic Back
Jake Kazdal, an American video game developer who lives in Kyoto, Japan, spent a night in early March refreshing the website of GameStop, the video game retail chain in the United States. He wanted to buy Nintendo’s just-released console, the Switch. But the device had already sold out in Japan, forcing him to look elsewhere.
While Mr. Kazdal had bought Nintendo’s previous console, the Wii U, a few years earlier, he soon had buyer’s remorse. “After a few short games at my folks’ place, everyone was done,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘Uh-oh.’”
The announcement of the Switch, however — a sort of two-in-one device that can be played at home or on the go — lowered his skepticism about Nintendo. Nine months later, his support is full-throated.
“It’s what the Wii U should have been,” he said.
Mr. Kazdal’s changing view on Nintendo is widely shared. This time last year, the company that made Mario and Donkey Kong household names seemed to have lost both its audience and its enchanted touch. Players were moving elsewhere. Losses were piling up.
But thanks largely to the arrival of the Switch in March, Nintendo has had a startling turnaround year.
The new console became the fastest-selling video game system in Nintendo’s history — to the point where the company failed to keep up with demand. In Japan, thousands of people lined up this summer to enter a lottery for a chance to buy one. In the United States, retailers struggled, for much of the year, to maintain stock.
Nintendo’s internal target for its first-year sales of the Switch has risen to 16 million from 10 million. In the company’s most recent quarterly report, released in October, it announced profit of $209 million, after regularly reporting losses in previous quarters. Its stock is up more than 75 percent this year.
“Neither analysts nor investors predicted the strength of adoption for the Switch,” says Piers Harding-Rolls, who leads a group of game industry analysts at IHS Markit, a research firm.
After years of resistance, Nintendo has also embraced the widespread move to mobile gaming that has reshaped the industry. Late last year, it introduced Super Mario Run, bringing the mustachioed plumber to the iPhone for the first time. Introducing new versions of some classic consoles, like the Super Nintendo, has also provided a revenue lift.
But the major reason for the company’s recent success has been its ability to identify and correct several problems with the Wii U, a console it released in 2012.
Third-party publishers made few games for the system, and Nintendo’s games, while lauded, were released infrequently, then not at all.
The problems started with branding, however. The device’s name implied an iterative upgrade to the Wii, an earlier hit that popularized motion-sensing controllers, but the Wii U was a much different console.
The Wii U’s controller, which included an iPad-like screen that allowed for new game possibilities but also defied easy explanation, compounded the problem.
“It was a bit difficult for consumers to understand what the system was about,” said Shigeru Miyamoto, a top executive at the company and the creator of many of Nintendo’s most celebrated games during the past three decades.
Satoru Iwata, the company’s president when the Wii U was released, recognized these issues. Before his death in 2015, from complications related to cancer, he set in motion changes that have helped the company since.
Mr. Iwata pushed the company to refine the Wii U’s design for the Switch, rather than pivot from them. The Switch comes with a small screen that can be attached directly to the controllers or remain separate and connect to a TV. People can play the machine as a hand-held device or as a more traditional console. “It is truly portable,” Mr. Kazdal said.
Much of the marketing has focused on that versatility, an easy concept to convey. The console, Mr. Miyamoto said, combines “all of the different play styles we’ve explored through our products in the past.”
The system features novelties of its own too: the detachable controllers allow two players to compete or collaborate without the need for additional hardware.
“I became particularly interested in the Switch because of the controllers,” said Nele Steenput, a 30-year-old artist from Oxford, England. “It’s so much fun with a lot of people.”
Mr. Iwata also planned a steady schedule of game releases, to help ensure that the console’s momentum continued in the months after its release.
Breath of the Wild took the 30-year-old Zelda series into more open worlds. Other inventive games have followed, like ARMS, a boxing game in which characters pummel one another with elastic limbs that can be given different deadly appendages.
In October, the company released Super Mario Odyssey, a game that, for the first time in the series’ history, took Mario to destinations that looked like real-world locations, like New York City.
“We have deliberately maintained a pace of content that we were unable to achieve with the Wii U,” said Reginald Fils-Aimé, president of Nintendo of America.
This output is being led by a new generation of young game designers overseen by Shinya Takahashi, a little-known executive who has recently taken over Nintendo’s hardware and software divisions.
“While we were truly saddened by Iwata’s passing, it came at a time when new leaders were rising in the company,” Mr. Takahashi, 54, said.
Even people like Mr. Miyamoto, 65, a leading figure at Nintendo since the 1980s, is ceding control at the company’s Japanese headquarters.
“More and more I am trying to let the younger generation fully take the reins,” Mr. Miyamoto said.
This younger generation has been carefully chosen; Mr. Miyamoto says he wants people who are more likely to create new kinds of play, rather than merely aim to perfect current ones.
“I always look for designers who aren’t super-passionate game fans,” Mr. Miyamoto said. “I make it a point to ensure they’re not just a gamer, but that they have a lot of different interests and skill sets.” Some of the company’s current stars had no experience playing video games when they were hired.
Kosuke Yabuki, a 37-year-old mentee of Mr. Miyamoto, said the company has not changed how products are made. “Our mission remains the same: to find unique ways to explore play,” he said. “The difference is that, perhaps, now is our time.”
Maintaining this newfound momentum through 2018 presents a significant challenge, however. As the majority of Nintendo’s staunchest fans now own the console, the company must focus on attracting new believers, a difficulty when the company has announced no major releases from its own Mario and Zelda franchises to persuade buyers.
That means Nintendo will need outside developers to provide critical support. Those developers have typically been cautious about supporting Nintendo’s machines, because the technology inside them is relatively distinct compared with those made by Microsoft and Sony, two main rivals. That makes it more expensive to build a game that works for all three brands.
But with the Switch, Nintendo has worked hard to court support of major publishers such as Ubisoft, EA and Bethesda. In November, the Japanese game studio Square-Enix told investors that, in addition to researching which of its games could be brought to Nintendo’s system, it will also be “aggressively making games for Switch.”
Nintendo has also been courting smaller game makers, referring to independent developers who bring their games to the Switch as “Nindies.” Some have already enjoyed success. Lizardcube, the Paris-based developer of Wonder Boy, has reported that the Switch version of its game outsold all other platform versions combined.
Still, many players worry about the Switch’s prospects in the coming year and beyond.
“I am worried about the longevity of the system over Nintendo’s penchant for abandoning things,” one Twitter user wrote this week, while canvassing views as to whether he should invest in the product.
But Phil Harrison, a former vice president for the video game divisions at both Microsoft and Sony, said the last year reinforced an old and important lesson.
“Never underestimate Nintendo,” he said.
a sort of
be piling up
- a friend from childhood
- the home often visit
- favorite place in my house
- online shopping problem
- miss an appointment
- a daily routine
- a beautiful object
- tech difficult to use
- a gift i got
- an advertisement i don’t like
- something would like to learn
- an activity when i am young
Proud, Scared and Conflicted. What the China Protesters Told Me.
They went to their first demonstrations. They chanted their first protest slogans. They had their first encounters with the police.
Then they went home, shivering in disbelief at how they had challenged the most powerful authoritarian government in the world and the most iron-fisted leader China has seen in decades.
Young Chinese are protesting the country’s harsh “zero-Covid” policy and even urging its top leader, Xi Jinping, to step down. It’s something that China hadn’t seen since 1989, when the ruling Communist Party brutally cracked down on the pro-democracy demonstrators, mostly college students. No matter what happens in the days and weeks ahead, the young protesters presented a new threat to the rule of Mr. Xi, who has eliminated his political opponents and suppressed any voice that challenges his rule.
Such public dissent was unimaginable until a few days ago. These same young people, when they mentioned Mr. Xi online, used euphemisms like “X,” “he” or “that person,” afraid to even utter the president’s name. They put up with whatever the government put them through: harsh pandemic restrictions, high unemployment rates, fewer books available to read, movies to watch and games to play.
Then something cracked.
After nearly three long years of “zero Covid,” which has turned into a political campaign for Mr. Xi, China’s future looks increasingly bleak. The economy is in its worst shape in decades. Mr. Xi’s foreign policy has antagonized many countries. His censorship policy, in addition to quashing challenges to his authority, has killed nearly all fun.
As a popular Weibo post put it, Chinese people are getting by with books published 20 years ago, music released a decade ago, travel photos from five years ago, income earned last year, frozen dumplings from a lockdown three months ago, Covid tests from yesterday and a freshly baked Soviet joke from today.
“I think all of these have reached a tipping point,” said Miranda, a journalist in Shanghai who participated in the protest on Saturday evening. “If you don’t do anything about it, you could really explode.”
In the last few days, in interviews with more than a dozen young people who protested in Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Wuhan, I heard of a burst of pent-up anger and frustration with how the government carries out “zero Covid.” But their anger and despair go beyond that, all the way to questioning the rule of Mr. Xi.
Two of these people said they didn’t plan to have children, a new way to protest among young Chinese when Beijing is encouraging more births. At least four of the protesters said they were planning to emigrate. One of them refused to look for a job after being laid off by a video-game company in the aftermath of a government crackdown on the industry last year.
They went to the protests because they wanted to let the government know how they felt about being tested constantly, locked inside their apartments or kept away from family and friends in the Covid dragnet. And they wanted to show solidarity for fellow protesters.
They are members of a generation known as Mr. Xi’s children, the nationalistic “little pinks” who defend China on Weibo, Facebook and Twitter. The protesters represent a small percentage of Chinese in their 20s and early 30s. By standing up to the government, they defied the perception of their generation. Some older Chinese people said the protesters made them feel more hopeful about the country’s future.
Zhang Wenmin, a former investigative journalist known under her pen name Jiang Xue, wrote on Twitter that she had been moved to tears by the bravery of the protesters. “It’s hard for people who haven’t lived in China in the past three to four years to imagine how much fear these people had to overcome to take to the streets, to shout, ‘Give me liberty, or give me death,’” she wrote. “Amazing. Love you all!”
As first-time marchers, most of them did not know what to expect. A Beijing protester said she had been so tense that she felt physically and emotionally exhausted the next day. More than one person told me that they needed a day to collect their thoughts before they could talk. At least three cried in our interviews.
They are proud, scared and conflicted about their experiences. They have different views about how politically explicit their slogans should be, but they all said they found shouting the slogans cathartic.
Miranda, who has been a journalist for eight years, said she couldn’t stop crying when she shouted with the crowd, “Freedom of speech!” and “Freedom of press!” “It was the freest moment since I became a journalist,” she said, her voice cracking.
All the people I interviewed asked me to use only their first name, family name or English name to protect their safety. They had felt a relative safety when marching with others just days earlier, but none dared to put their names to comments that would be published.
The slogans that they recalled chanting were all over the place, illustrating the wide frustration with their lives. “End the lockdown!” “Freedom of speech!” “Give back my movies!”
Quite a few of them were taken aback by how political the Saturday protest in Shanghai turned out to be.
They were equally surprised, if not more, when more people returned on Sunday to request the release of protesters who had been detained hours earlier.
All six Shanghai protesters I spoke with thought that they were going to a vigil on Saturday evening for the 10 victims who died in a fire Thursday in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region in China’s west. In the beginning, the atmosphere was relaxed.
When someone first chanted, “No more Communist Party,” the crowd laughed, according to Serena, a college student who is spending her gap year in Shanghai. “Everyone knew it was the red line,” she said.
Then it became increasingly charged. When someone yelled, “Xi Jinping, step down!” and “C.C.P., step down!” the shouts were the loudest, according to Serena and other protesters who were also there.
In Beijing, a marketing professional in her mid-20s with the surname Wu told her fellow protesters not to shout those politically explicit slogans because that would guarantee a crackdown. Instead, she shouted slogans that urged the government to follow the rule of law and release detained Shanghai protesters.
A protester in Chengdu and one in Guangzhou, separated by 1,000 miles, both said they had been stopped from shouting slogans that other demonstrators deemed too political and had been told to stick to the Covid-related demands.
For many of them, this weekend was their first brush with the police. A protester named Xiaoli in Chengdu said she had never seen so many police in her life. After being chased by them, she said she could hear her heart beating fast when she passed by officers on her way home.
It was clear that many protesters blame Mr. Xi for the extremely unpopular “zero-Covid” policy. A young Shanghai professional with the surname Zhang said Mr. Xi’s norm-breaking third term, secured at last month's party congress, spelled the end of China’s progress. “We all gave up our illusions,” he said.
He cried when he mentioned an old man’s question during this year’s Shanghai lockdown, “Why has our country come to this?” Mr. Zhang, who said he had grown up poor in a village, was grateful for the government’s assistance in his education. “I thought we would only move upward,” he added.
The young protesters are most conflicted about the impact of their actions. They felt powerless about changing the system as long as Mr. Xi and the Communist Party are in power. They believe that many people in the public supported them because the unyielding Covid rules have violated what they see as baseline norms of Chinese society. Once the government relaxes the policy, they worry, the public’s support for protests would evaporate.
At the same time, some of them argued that their protests would make the public aware of their rights.
No one knows what the protests will become — a moment in history, or a footnote. The official state media has kept quiet, though some pro-government social media bloggers have pointed fingers at “foreign forces.” The police have enhanced their presence on the streets and called or visited protesters in an attempt to intimidate them.
I asked Bruce, a Shanghai finance worker in his 20s, whether the protests meant that people had changed their view of Mr. Xi. He responded, “It was probably not because the public’s opinion of him changed, but because those who are critical of him have spoken up.”
get by with
be taken aback
- an interesting old person
- a noisy place
- meet at a party
- disagreement with someone
- something had to share
- teach friend something
- late for an important event
- complaint you made
- a photo i am proud of
- an unusual meal
- do something with others
- dress fashionably
- first day went to school
How thousands of Chinese gently mourn a virus whistleblower?
They come to say “good morning” and “good night.” They tell him that spring has arrived and that the cherry blossoms are blooming. They share that they are falling in love, falling out of love or getting divorced. They send him photos of fried chicken drumsticks, his favorite snack.
They whisper that they miss him.
Li, a doctor in the Chinese city of Wuhan, died of the coronavirus Feb. 6 at age 34. More than a month before that, he went online to warn friends of the strange and deadly virus rampaging through his hospital, only to be threatened by government authorities. He became a hero in China when his warnings proved true, then a martyr when he died.
After his passing, people began to gather, virtually, at his last post on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform. In the comments section, they grieve and seek solace. Some call it China’s Wailing Wall, a reference to the Western Wall in Jerusalem where people leave written prayers in the cracks.
“Dr. Li, what is heaven like?” “Dr. Li, my cat died today.” “Dr. Li, the cherry blossoms are blooming. Remember to check it out.” “Good morning, Dr. Li. Here’s a drumstick for you.” “Dr. Li, thank you for trying to save the world.”
As the deadly virus killed tens of thousands around the world, each society will have its unique way of coping with the loss and grief. In a largely atheist yet spiritual nation with little tradition of praying, the digital Wailing Wall allows the Chinese people to share their sadness, frustration and aspirations with someone they trusted and loved.
It may be the gentlest place on the often polarizing and combative Chinese internet. People write down their thoughts and leave. They don’t argue or make accusations. When they do respond to each other, they leave digital hugs and encouragement. I cried as I read through the comments. I found the experience cathartic.
It’s a refuge for a traumatized people. Many people, I believe, feel the same way.
Li had been an avid user of Weibo, China’s rough equivalent of Twitter, since 2011. He posted his last message Feb. 1. “Today the nucleic acid test result is positive,” he wrote of the test that confirmed he had been infected by the coronavirus. “The dust has settled, and the diagnosis is finally confirmed.” He died five days later.
Under that post, Weibo users have left more than 870,000 comments. Some people post a few times a day, telling him how their mornings, afternoons and evenings went. Only posts by China’s biggest actors and pop stars can match those numbers, but even those lack the visceral response that Li’s last post has drawn.
Users feel comfortable talking to Li. They know he will never scold them or judge them for what they say. They know, after reading his more than 2,000 posts, that he was a gentle and kind soul. He was an ordinary person just like them who enjoyed food and fun and sometimes got tired of working such a demanding job. He would understand.
“Dr. Li, I have a crush on a girl.” “My life is a mess. I’ll probably get divorced soon.” “I think I may have depression.” “Too much stress. But what is better than being alive, right?” “We can have spicy hot pot in Chengdu now. Missing you.” “I haven’t been paid in more than two months. Really scared that the landlord will call.” "I quit before the epidemic broke out. Now I’m worried that I won’t be able to find a job.” “I lost my job because of the outbreak in Europe and America! 2020 is too difficult." “It’s raining now. I like the rainy days the best because I can cry in the rain and no one would notice. This is the first time I’ve shared this secret with anyone, and probably the last time.” “I played with my phone for a long time but couldn’t find anybody to talk to. So here I am. I can talk to you.”
I read thousands of messages people left just March 26, the 49th day — the seventh day of the seventh week — since Li’s death. Many Chinese believe that is the day that a person’s soul will finally leave the body and be reincarnated as a newborn.
March 26 is also when Wuhan began to allow its residents to take back the ashes of their loved ones. People queued in long lines at funeral homes. The photos triggered social media discussions of the real scope of the outbreak and the credibility of government’s official toll of Wuhan’s dead. Many of the photos were subsequently censored.
“Dr. Li, some comments said that you have probably been reborn as a baby by now. If you’re reincarnated, I hope you’ll be a good-looking baby.” “Dr. Li, today is the 49th day of your death. I’ll blow a whistle like you did in an hour. Hope you’ll be born a good person in your next life too.” “Dr. Li, did your family go to pick up your ashes? Miss you, and thanks again.” “Dr. Li, why were the Weibo posts about taking back loved ones’ ashes deleted? Have we learned nothing from this outbreak? What would you say?” “It seems that another doctor in your hospital died today. How can the people in power sit so securely?”
Because many people see him as an ordinary person wronged by authorities and as a hero who stood up to power, they come to him to express their frustration that justice and righteousness haven’t prevailed.
They are angry that only two police officers have been punished for reprimanding him. Many believe the police were acting on orders from higher up.
They also share their relief that China’s lockdowns appear to be nearing an end, their distrust of the official news and their lingering fear of the pandemic.
“I can’t keep my tears from falling every time I think of all the suffering and trauma Wuhan people have endured.” “The day will come when the people can rewrite the investigation report of your case.” “Dr. Li, the lockdown is ending in Wuhan! It’s ending! It’s ending!” “I heard this is the only place on the Chinese internet where you can say anything. So here I am.” “The media is full of good news. Brother, do you believe the media? “Dr. Li, can you tell me the real situation of the outbreak now?” “The outbreak is very serious abroad. I hope they can get over it safely.” “In some places the subsidies for front-line medical workers were distributed then taken back. I’m very disappointed. I am a first-year medical student. I kind of want to give up.” “Dr. Li, is accountability something achievable?”
Some people complain that the comments are censored, an allegation that is difficult to prove. They worry that his Weibo account could be deleted, just like many others. Then they will lose the only place they can take a break from a world that has been turned upside down.
They watch warily and helplessly as the pandemic spreads to many parts of the world, and the two super powers, China and the United States, engage in reckless and meaningless diplomatic squabbles. Like people everywhere, they don’t know how this is going to end. But most people just want to tell him that they miss him and wish him the best in the next world.
“I talked about you in my writing class. Hope the children will remember that you sacrificed your life for them.” “More than 10,000 people came to see you here today. You live in our hearts. You will not be forgotten!” “It seems everyone becomes gentle as soon as they come here. It’s so nice.” “Dr. Li, I'll watch a bit of TV before going to bed. Please go to bed early too. Love you.” “Good night, Dr. Li. Hope you have sweet dreams every night.” “Good night. Good night. Good night.”
- who love to grow plants
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This month, Jeremy Howard, an artificial intelligence researcher, introduced an online chatbot called ChatGPT to his 7-year-old daughter. It had been released a few days earlier by OpenAI, one of the world’s most ambitious AI labs.
He told her to ask the experimental chatbot whatever came to mind. She asked what trigonometry was good for, where black holes came from and why chickens incubated their eggs. Each time, it answered in clear, well-punctuated prose. When she asked for a computer program that could predict the path of a ball thrown through the air, it gave her that, too.
Over the next few days, Howard — a data scientist and professor whose work inspired the creation of ChatGPT and similar technologies — came to see the chatbot as a new kind of personal tutor. It could teach his daughter math, science and English, not to mention a few other important lessons. Chief among them: Do not believe everything you are told.
“It is a thrill to see her learn like this,” he said. “But I also told her, ‘Don’t trust everything it gives you. It can make mistakes.’”
OpenAI is among the many companies, academic labs and independent researchers working to build more advanced chatbots. These systems cannot exactly chat like a human, but they often seem to. They can also retrieve and repackage information with a speed that humans never could. They can be thought of as digital assistants — like Siri or Alexa — that are better at understanding what you are looking for and giving it to you.
After the release of ChatGPT — which has been used by more than 1 million people — many experts believe these new chatbots are poised to reinvent or even replace internet search engines such as Google and Bing.
They can serve up information in tight sentences, rather than long lists of blue links. They explain concepts in ways that people can understand. And they can deliver facts, while also generating business plans, term paper topics and other new ideas from scratch.
“You now have a computer that can answer any question in a way that makes sense to a human,” said Aaron, CEO of a Silicon Valley company, Box, and one of the many executives exploring the ways these chatbots will change the technological landscape. “It can extrapolate and take ideas from different contexts and merge them together.”
The new chatbots do this with what seems like complete confidence. But they do not always tell the truth. Sometimes, they even fail at simple arithmetic. They blend fact with fiction. And as they continue to improve, people could use them to generate and spread untruths.
Google recently built a system specifically for conversation, called LaMDA, or Language Model for Dialogue Applications. This spring, a Google engineer claimed it was sentient. It was not, but it captured the public’s imagination.
Aaron, a data scientist in Arlington, Virginia, was among the limited number of people outside Google allowed to use LaMDA through an experimental Google app, AI Test Kitchen. He was consistently amazed by its talent for open-ended conversation. It kept him entertained. But he warned that it could be a bit of a fabulist — as was to be expected from a system trained from vast amounts of information posted to the internet.
“What it gives you is kind of like an Aaron Sorkin movie,” he said. Sorkin wrote “The Social Network,” a movie often criticized for stretching the truth about the origin of Facebook. “ Parts of it will be true, and parts will not be true.”
He recently asked both LaMDA and ChatGPT to chat with him as if it were Mark Twain. When he asked LaMDA, it soon described a meeting between Twain and Levi Strauss and said the writer had worked for the bluejeans mogul while living in San Francisco in the mid-1800s. It seemed true. But it was not. Twain and Strauss lived in San Francisco at the same time, but they never worked together.
Scientists call that problem “hallucination.” Much like a good storyteller, chatbots have a way of taking what they have learned and reshaping it into something new — with no regard for whether it is true.
LaMDA is what artificial intelligence researchers call a neural network, a mathematical system loosely modeled on the network of neurons in the brain. This is the same technology that translates between French and English on services like Google Translate and identifies pedestrians as self-driving cars navigate city streets.
A neural network learns skills by analyzing data. By pinpointing patterns in thousands of cat photos, for example, it can learn to recognize a cat.
Five years ago, researchers at Google and labs like OpenAI started designing neural networks that analyzed enormous amounts of digital text, including books, Wikipedia articles, news stories and online chat logs. Scientists call them “large language models.” Identifying billions of distinct patterns in the way people connect words, numbers and symbols, these systems learned to generate text on their own.
Their ability to generate language surprised many researchers in the field, including many of the researchers who built them. The technology could mimic what people had written and combine disparate concepts. You could ask it to write a “Seinfeld” scene in which Jerry learns an esoteric mathematical technique called a bubble sort algorithm — and it would.
With ChatGPT, OpenAI has worked to refine the technology. It does not do free-flowing conversation as well as Google’s LaMDA. It was designed to operate more like Siri, Alexa and other digital assistants. Like LaMDA, ChatGPT was trained on a sea of digital text culled from the internet.
As people tested the system, it asked them to rate its responses. Were they convincing? Were they useful? Were they truthful? Then, through a technique called reinforcement learning, it used the ratings to hone the system and more carefully define what it would and would not do.
“This allows us to get to the point where the model can interact with you and admit when it’s wrong,” said Mira, OpenAI’s chief technology officer. “It can reject something that is inappropriate, and it can challenge a question or a premise that is incorrect.”
The method was not perfect. OpenAI warned those using ChatGPT that it “may occasionally generate incorrect information” and “produce harmful instructions or biased content.” But the company plans to continue refining the technology and reminds people using it that it is still a research project.
Google, Meta and other companies are also addressing accuracy issues. Meta recently removed an online preview of its chatbot, Galactica, because it repeatedly generated incorrect and biased information.
Experts have warned that companies do not control the fate of these technologies. Systems such as ChatGPT, LaMDA and Galactica are based on ideas, research papers and computer code that have circulated freely for years.
Companies such as Google and OpenAI can push the technology forward at a faster rate than others. But their latest technologies have been reproduced and widely distributed. They cannot prevent people from using these systems to spread misinformation.
Just as Howard hoped that his daughter would learn not to trust everything she read on the internet, he hoped society would learn the same lesson.
“You could program millions of these bots to appear like humans, having conversations designed to convince people of a particular point of view,” he said. “I have warned about this for years. Now it is obvious that this is just waiting to happen.”
chief among them
be poised to
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One of the Founding Fathers of the United States
Alexander Hamilton was born on Nevis, a British-ruled island in the Caribbean Sea, around 1757. When he was about eight years old, his family moved to another British island. Soon after, Hamilton’s father left, and then his mother died. Hamilton and his older brother, moved in with a cousin and an uncle, but both guardians passed away.
Hamilton sometimes sent poems and letters to be published in the local newspaper. When he was about 15, he wrote a letter about a recent hurricane. People were so impressed with the teenager’s writing skills that in 1772, they raised the money to send Hamilton to the American colonies to get an education.
While Hamilton was studying at a college in New York City, the American colonies were on the brink of war with Great Britain to determine who would rule the land. Hamilton spoke at rallies and published papers in support of the American fight, and when the Revolutionary War began in 1775, he quit school and joined the army.
Hamilton was a fearless fighter but an even better captain: He was organized and knew how to get the supplies his soldiers needed. He even impressed George Washington, the commander of the army, who asked Hamilton to join his staff. Hamilton served as Washington’s assistant for four years, helping him plan battles, manage staff, and write letters.
The young officer wrote often to the Continental Congress, asking for food and supplies for the troops. He watched as the Continental Congress tried to figure out how to run the new country (the Continental Congress had approved the Declaration of Independence a few years earlier) and thought that too many members were more concerned with the rights of states—not the whole country. Hamilton believed that the nation would never succeed unless all the states came together as a union.
After his war service ended, Hamilton moved to Albany, New York, and then to New York City with his wife, Elizabeth Schuyler. He worked as a tax collector for the federal government and saw that many New Yorkers didn’t want to pay taxes to the federal government; they wanted to keep money in their own state. But the war wasn’t over yet, and once it ended, the new nation would have to pay back the money it borrowed from other countries to fund it. Hamilton knew this would be a problem: Some states weren’t paying their share.
In 1782, Hamilton was chosen to serve in the Congress of the Confederation (the name of the government at the time); the war finally ended in 1783. In 1787, he attended the Constitutional Convention. He would work with other delegates to write the U.S. Constitution (the set of laws by which a country is governed) that would give more power to the federal government. Many delegates didn’t like it, so Hamilton and two other leaders wrote 85 essays explaining what it was and why it was needed. They convinced delegates to sign the new constitution.
When George Washington became the first U.S. president in 1789, Washington asked Hamilton to be the first secretary of the treasury, which is the leader of the department that handles the country’s money. Hamilton started by dealing with America's war debts, money they borrowed from other countries to fight the British. He combined the federal debt with the states’ debts. Then he used federal money to begin paying off the total debt, which helped to bind the states together. Hamilton also created the First Bank of the United States, which held the government's money and printed paper money.
Hamilton also spoke out against slavery. He had witnessed the cruelty against enslaved people on the sugar plantations on the islands where he grew up and tried to pass many laws against the practice in the United States. But slavery wouldn’t come to an end in the country for another 60 years after his death.
Many people disagreed with Hamilton, and one of them was a lawyer and politician named Aaron Burr. Hamilton thought that Burr often changed his political opinions to advance his career and therefore didn’t trust him. When Burr and Thomas Jefferson tied in the 1800 presidential election, the choice between them fell to the House of Representatives. Hamilton spoke out against Burr, leading to Jefferson’s election; Burr became his vice president. When Burr ran for governor of New York four years later, Hamilton again spoke out against him, and Burr lost.
Although Hamilton lived to only 49 years old, he made many important contributions to the country. The banking system he created, the Constitution he helped write and convince the delegates to pass, and the government system that he so strongly believed in are all still used today.
You can learn about his life through the Broadway musical Hamilton. Today more people than ever are getting to know this Founding Father who helped create the United States as we know it.
- You can find Hamilton's face on the $10 bill.
- Hamilton and fellow Founding Father Benjamin Franklin are currently the only people featured on U.S. currency who weren’t presidents.
- Hamilton taught himself law and passed the bar exam, the test to become a lawyer, after studying for only six months. (Most people take three years.)
- After people started called him a genius, Hamilton wrote: “People sometimes attribute my success to my genius; all the genius I know anything about is hard work.”
- Hamilton wrote most of George Washington’s Farewell Address, in which Washington announced he would not run for a third time as president.
on the brink of…
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