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Liu Cixin’s War of the Worlds
For the Chinese, achieving parity with the West is a long-cherished goal, envisaged as a restoration of greatness after the humiliation of Western occupations and the self-inflicted wounds of the Mao era.

In 2015, China’s then Vice-President, Li Yuanchao, invited Liu to Zhongnanhai—an off-limits complex of government accommodation sometimes compared to the Kremlin—to discuss the books and showed Liu his own copies, which were dense with highlights and annotations.

Liu’s fellow sci-fi writers in China call him Da Liu—Big Liu—but he is small, with an unusually round head, which seems too large for his slight, wiry physique. He has the unassuming presence, belying an unflappable intelligence, of an operative posing as an accountant. Rarely making eye contact, he maintains an expression at once detached and preoccupied, as if too impatient for the future to commit his full attention to the present.

his father had turned him on to speculative fiction, giving him a copy of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” To the young Liu, reading Verne’s book was like walking through a door to another world. “Everything in it was described with such authority and scrupulous attention to detail that I thought it had to be real,” Liu told me.

Although physics furnishes the novels’ premises, it is politics that drives the plots. At every turn, the characters are forced to make brutal calculations in which moral absolutism is pitted against the greater good. In their pursuit of survival, men and women employ Machiavellian game theory and adopt a bleak consequentialism. In Liu’s fictional universe, idealism is fatal and kindness an exorbitant luxury. As one general says in the trilogy, “In a time of war, we can’t afford to be too scrupulous.” Indeed, it is usually when people do not play by the rules of Realpolitik that the most lives are lost.

“What about individual liberty and freedom of governance?” He sighed, as if exhausted by a debate going on in his head. “But that’s not what Chinese people care about. For ordinary folks, it’s the cost of health care, real-estate prices, their children’s education. Not democracy.”

“Here’s the truth: if you were to become the President of China tomorrow, you would find that you had no other choice than to do exactly as he has done.”

It was an opinion entirely consistent with his systems-level view of human societies, just as mine reflected a belief in democracy and individualism as principles to be upheld regardless of outcomes.

When Liu is at his most relaxed, which is usually when he’s looking at, or learning about, something, he sounds almost like a child. There’s an upward lilt to his voice that suggests a kind of naïve wonder—someone happily lost in his own boundless curiosity.
interview  scifi  chinese  politics  today  history  bio  portrait  family 
8 weeks ago by aries1988
A Certain Idea of France | Peter Hitchens

Charles de Gaulle’s life would perhaps have been better lived in the seventeenth or eighteenth century, in times when personal courage, mystical imagination, chivalry, and religious fervor were more welcome than they are now. In this world of the United Nations, risk assessment, lawyers, Geneva Conventions, television and superpowers, there is not really enough room for such a man to swing his sword, just as there is no room for old-fashioned great powers in the shadow of superpowers. Had he not been so magnificent, he would have been ridiculous. He looked, more than anything else, like a camel, not least because of the superior expression on his face suggesting that he alone knew the secret One Hundredth Name of God, which camels are supposed to know.

It is a strange fact that the potentially attractive political combination of liberty, domestic socialism, well-armed patriotism, and social conservatism seldom exists in the advanced countries of the West.

François ­Mitterrand, his old rival, undid almost all of de Gaulle’s work. He wholly rejected the general’s belief in an enduring, sovereign France. ­Mitterrand had been decorated by Pétain’s collaborationist Vichy government, and like many intelligent Frenchmen, saw 1940 as a moment of truth that France could not thereafter ignore. It fell to people like him to implement Hector Dexter’s vision of a Europe whose common cultural bond was Coca-Cola, and ­McDonald’s, too.
leader  president  france  français  history  ww2  europe  eu  fail  politics  bio  american  anti 
march 2019 by aries1988
The Painful Price of Becoming Jackie Chan

The transfer was symbolically completed in 1999’s The Matrix, when Keanu Reeves, having downloaded a fighting program to his brain, opens his eyes and reverently whispers, I know kung fu.
kungfu  actor  movie  icon  hongkong  growup  bio  book  critic  pain  success  story 
january 2019 by aries1988
The Seductive Enthusiasm of Kenneth Clark’s “Civilisation”
it raised an important question in his mind: how to fuse his erudite tastes in art and culture with the reach and power of broadcast television? In some respects, that remains a quixotic project. And yet Clark managed to pull it off, in ways that still seem surprising and even a little mysterious.

Clark is outrageously committed to the “great man” approach to history and to the concept of genius. “Above all, I believe in the God-given genius of certain individuals, and I value a society that makes their existence possible,” he says.

lets the camera have a leisurely look at whatever he’s been talking about. This is the use of television as a contemplative tool, something rarely attempted and, when done well, still remarkable.

He broke down with emotion on many other occasions during the filming of the series. This predilection for weeping comes through in the final product, in a good way: Clark’s just-under-the-surface emotion, his obvious feeling that the great art we’re being shown matters, gives the series a rare and subtle power.
bio  history  tv  art  civ  west  1960s  classic 
december 2018 by aries1988
Jared Diamond: ‘Humans, 150,000 years ago, wouldn’t figure on a list of the five most interesting species on Earth’

It was a painful thought for someone who recalled being told, by an admiring teacher at his Massachusetts school, that one day he would “unify the sciences and humanities”. Clearly, he needed a larger canvas. Even so, few could have predicted how large a canvas he would choose.

1997’s Guns, Germs and Steel – which ask the most sweeping questions it is possible to ask about human history.

Diamond, who describes himself as a biogeographer, answers them in translucent prose that has the effect of making the world seem to click into place, each fact assuming its place in an elegant arc of pan-historical reasoning.

Why? Because 8,000 years ago – to borrow from Guns, Germs and Steel – the geography of Europe and the Middle East made it easier to farm crops and animals there than elsewhere.

vicious jousting between Diamond and many anthropologists. They condemn him as a cultural imperialist, intent on excusing the horrors of colonialism while asserting the moral superiority of the west.

In person, Diamond is a fastidiously courteous 77-year-old with a Quaker-style beard sans moustache, and archaic New England vowels: “often” becomes “orphan”, “area” becomes “eerier”. There’s no computer: despite his children’s best efforts, he admits he’s never learned to use one.

What changed, Diamond argues, was a seemingly minor set of mutations in our larynxes, permitting control over spoken sounds, and thus spoken language; spoken language permitted much of the rest.

It won a Pulitzer prize and has sold more than 1.5m copies in 36 languages. Mitt Romney quoted it admiringly in his 2012 presidential campaign, garbling its message entirely.

he found himself accused of “geographic determinism”: in his critics’ opinion, his arguments squeeze out any role for human agency and decision-making, thereby sparing history’s colonisers – and today’s elites – any responsibility for having created our grotesquely unjust world.

Each of the two books has the unusual distinction of having another book dedicated largely to demolishing it: Yali’s Question, which offers a different answer from Diamond’s New Guinean acquaintance, and Questioning Collapse, which calls the Easter Island “ecocide” a myth.

Whenever I hear the phrase ‘geographic determinism’,” he says, “I know I’m about to waste time discussing with someone who has no right to be discussing [how human societies developed]. Because the fact is that geography has a strong influence on humans. It doesn’t determine everything, but it has a strong influence
bio  book  leader  human  development  inequality  world  history  biology  environment  debate  theory  geography  opinion 
october 2018 by aries1988

deutschland  king  war  bio 
october 2018 by aries1988
How Charles de Gaulle Rescued France
His life shows that right-wing politics needn’t bend toward absolutism, Adam Gopnik writes.
president  français  politics  history  france  bio  book  review 
august 2018 by aries1988
专访王柯:极端的民族主义,一定是与世界为敌|深度|端传媒 Initium Media





opinion  research  politics  history  china  chinese  japan  nation  state  religion  ethnic  crisis  bio 
november 2017 by aries1988
‘We will all be dust soon’: Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss on death, despair and drama
He’s watched by millions, so why does the actor and writer feel a loser in today’s culture war?
interview  uk  culture  2017  tv  actor  bio  british 
november 2017 by aries1988
Comment Martin Luther a inventé le buzz, 500 ans avant Internet

Il y a 500 ans, Martin Luther publiait ses 95 thèses pour dénoncer le trafic de l'Eglise catholique qui vendait littéralement des places au paradis. Mais le père de la réforme protestante ne s'attendait pas à un si grand succès médiatique. Un entretien avec son biographe en démonte les ressorts.

Beaucoup de laïcs, de gens moyennement cultivés mais qui pouvaient au moins écrire en allemand, se sont faits les diffuseurs des idées de Luther, parce qu’il leur avait apporté un message qui les réconfortait.

C’est aussi quelqu’un qui a su donner une réponse pastorale, apaisante, réconfortante, cohérente, au tourment de ses contemporains qui se demandaient vraiment : "Est-ce que je peux réussir ma mort ? Comment est-ce que ça va se passer pour moi dans l’au-delà ?"

Ce que Luther a compris, c’est qu’il y avait un certain nombre de questions que l’on pouvait traiter dans de petits écrits destinés à un large public et rédigés en allemand. Et cela, ses adversaires ne l’ont pas compris d’emblée.

un bon nombre de clercs et de laïcs se sont mis à leur tour à écrire, à publier ce qu’on appelle des feuilles volantes, des Flugschriften, de petits écrits imprimés, dans lesquels ils exprimaient la manière dont eux avaient compris les idées de Luther. Donc ils se sont faits en quelque sorte des démultiplicateurs des écrits de Luther, et ça, c’est tout à fait nouveau à cette époque.
deutsch  media  communication  mass  religion  zeitgeist  middle-age  leader  movement  europe  history  explained  mentality  question  death  life  bio  book  français 
november 2017 by aries1988
How Martin Luther Changed the World

If the Ninety-five Theses sprouted a myth, that is no surprise. Luther was one of those figures who touched off something much larger than himself; namely, the Reformation—the sundering of the Church and a fundamental revision of its theology. Once he had divided the Church, it could not be healed. His reforms survived to breed other reforms, many of which he disapproved of. His church splintered and splintered. To tote up the Protestant denominations discussed in Alec Ryrie’s new book, “Protestants” (Viking), is almost comical, there are so many of them. That means a lot of people, though. An eighth of the human race is now Protestant.

Indeed, the horrific Thirty Years’ War, in which, basically, Europe’s Roman Catholics killed all the Protestants they could, and vice versa, can in some measure be laid at Luther’s door. Although it did not begin until decades after his death, it arose in part because he had created no institutional structure to replace the one he walked away from.

The Reformation wasn’t led, exactly; it just spread, metastasized.

Why had God given his only begotten son? And why had the son died on the cross? Because that’s how much God loved the world. And that alone, Luther now reasoned, was sufficient for a person to be found “justified,” or worthy. From this thought, the Ninety-five Theses were born. Most of them were challenges to the sale of indulgences. And out of them came what would be the two guiding principles of Luther’s theology: sola fide and sola scriptura.

Luther’s collected writings come to a hundred and twenty volumes. In the first half of the sixteenth century, a third of all books published in German were written by him.

Luther very consciously sought a fresh, vigorous idiom. For his Bible’s vocabulary, he said, “we must ask the mother in the home, the children on the street,” and, like other writers with such aims—William Blake, for example—he ended up with something songlike. He loved alliteration—“Der Herr ist mein Hirte” (“The Lord is my shepherd”); “Dein Stecken und Stab” (“thy rod and thy staff”)—and he loved repetition and forceful rhythms. This made his texts easy and pleasing to read aloud, at home, to the children.

His goal was not to usher in modernity but simply to make religion religious again. Heinz Schilling writes, “Just when the lustre of religion threatened to be outdone by the atheistic and political brilliance of the secularized Renaissance papacy, the Wittenberg monk defined humankind’s relationship to God anew and gave back to religion its existential plausibility.” Lyndal Roper thinks much the same. She quotes Luther saying that the Church’s sacraments “are not fulfilled when they are taking place but when they are being believed.” All he asked for was sincerity, but this made a great difference.
book  bio  reform  leader  religion  history  europe  medieval  story  printing 
november 2017 by aries1988
Les bénéfices d’une alimentation bio pour la santé

Ils observent ainsi que la consommation fréquente ou exclusive de produits bio durant la grossesse et durant l’enfance est associée à une prévalence moindre d’allergies et d’eczéma chez les enfants. Elle entraîne aussi une baisse du risque de pré-éclampsie – une poussée brutale de la pression artérielle lors de la grossesse qui peut entraîner un accouchement prématuré, voire un décès de la mère.

En Europe, l’exposition aux pesticides organophosphorés entraînerait chaque année la perte de 13 millions de points de QI, représentant une valeur de 125 milliards d’euros, soit 1 % du produit intérieur brut européen.
bio  research  health 
november 2017 by aries1988
Orbiting Jupiter: my week with Emmanuel Macron

He takes her hand and his face divides in two – something I’ve often seen it do: the right half, brow creased, is determined, grave, almost severe, giving you the feeling that whatever he does, he’s doing it in the eyes of history. The left half, meanwhile, is cordial, optimistic, almost mischievous, giving you the feeling that now he’s there, things will be all right.

When I asked the president’s office for permission to accompany and interview Macron, it went without saying that he would not read the piece prior to publication. The one condition: that I send them the sentences I quote Macron as saying. This is customary in the press, and protects the person being interviewed from journalistic extrapolations. But it also protects the journalist against the interviewee’s bad faith: once he had approved the sentences, the interviewee can’t then turn around and say he didn’t say them, or that they were misrepresented.
president  leader  politics  français  bio  quotes  interview  young 
october 2017 by aries1988
野蛮生长 - 我的又一个五年 - 十五言
bio  phd  story  writing  life  programming  history  hobby 
september 2017 by aries1988
Hong Kong côté coulisses
Etonnante métropole de plus de 7 millions d'habitants, Hong Kong a été "restituée" à la Chine par le Royaume Uni il y a juste vingt ans et - business as usual - tout semble y continuer comme avant, avec un pragmatisme déroutant.
hongkong  story  book  anecdote  china  opinion  bio 
june 2017 by aries1988
The Long Shot - The New Yorker
Jia is not much interested in plot. His attraction to film seems to owe more to the dictum of André Bazin, the French theorist whom he counts as an inspiration, that photography “embalms time.” Jia crams his movies with so many hair styles, pop songs, and news references that they feel like time capsules of the here and now. He has a single, unwavering theme: the liminal space in which individuals try, usually in vain, to move from one life to another—floating migrants, laid-off factory hands, restless teen-agers, all trapped on the margins of China’s boom, with enough technology to glimpse the wider world but no way to reach it. In Jia’s cosmology, trains usually speed out of sight before you can catch them and motorcycles break down.

His characters are often inspired by people he grew up with—friends, in his words, “as ignorant and coarse and full of vitality as roadside weeds.”

the movement made a searing impression on him. “Although it failed, it didn’t really fail,” he said, “because it took freedom and democracy, individualism, individual rights, all these concepts, and disseminated them to many people, including me.”

Jia immersed himself in films from Taiwan and Europe, often watching three a day. Those which he could not find in the school archives he found on the street, as pirated V.H.S. tapes. He often pedalled his bicycle across town to watch screenings at a French cultural center in Beijing.

In contrast to the epic historical Chinese dramas that were popular at the time, Jia had revealed a bitterly unadorned image of contemporary life and its discontents. To older Chinese admirers especially, the film’s honesty was bittersweet. “We had been forbidden from telling the truth for such a long time that once we were allowed to do so, we did not know how to tell the truth,” the painter Chen Danqing wrote of the film.

He felt powerless. “My motivation for making films was not simply a love of movies but also a sense of idealism, a hope that I could help to change society.”

In “Still Life,” a building launches into the air like a rocket, and a flying saucer zips across the sky. (As Jia has explained to a film magazine, China’s “official speeches and pictures are like U.F.O.s that never touch the ground.”)

“Not because they are kung-fu movies—I like kung-fu movies—but because the film underscores power, that we should ‘bow down’ before power! For ‘harmony in the world,’ we should give up individual fights and efforts. The ‘authority of power,’ the focus of his films, is what makes me extremely uncomfortable.”

“My expression, my view on history, my view on the truth must be independent,” he says, “but I tell myself not to get marginalized, because being marginalized means you can’t do anything. Marginalization can be a kind of pleasant stance—I really admire many of those people—but I would rather expend enormous energy trying to dance with the many levels of the era in which we live.”
reportage  bio  movie  chinese  china  leader  art  idea  people  nostalgia  countryside  shanxi 
june 2017 by aries1988
Lunch with the FT: Donald Keene
as an 18-year-old, he came across a translation of The Tale of Genji in the Astor Hotel in New York.

worst of all, there were troops of Chinese children being led through. I was just so heartbroken by that. They deliberately inculcated hatred. These terrible things happened, yes. But you must get on with it.” These are sensitive matters, that still dog Asian politics. I could ask why Keene seems more troubled by Chinese propaganda than by Japanese atrocities.

while men were writing in classical Chinese, women more or less took over a whole new Japanese syllabary, hiragana, sometimes known as “women’s script”.
japan  japanese  american  literature  story  bio  china  war  gaijin  immigrant 
may 2017 by aries1988




































黄仁宇是在说,他的个人失败,是… [more]
book  chinese  history  bio  story  via:wogong 
april 2017 by aries1988
Linguist who simplified Chinese writing dies at 111
An amateur linguist, Zhou was assigned in 1955 by the communists to co-chair a committee tasked with developing a Romanisation system for Mandarin Chinese, which the party was promoting as a common language to unify a vast population. 

Pinyin's use in Chinese schools has been key to boosting the country's literacy rate from about 20 per cent in the 1950s to more than 90 per cent today, and it later became a basis for typing using computers.
pinyin  bio  china 
january 2017 by aries1988
bio  china  japanese  anime  story  ideology 
september 2013 by aries1988
The Responsibility of Sperm Donors: Familiar Feelings
The answer is not hard to find: we know that we owe a lot of our physical and psychological characteristics – that determine and influence our life in so many ways – to this one person. The seemingly irrational longing to learn about this unfamiliar ancestor stems from the rational knowledge of the heteronomy that shapes our destiny. We know that part of ourselves derives from our biological parents and that learning about them is the key to learning about ourselves.
bio  social  opinion  children  future 
july 2013 by aries1988
'Hi! I'm Fang!' The Man Who Changed China
But Fang observed that demands for liberalization had risen in the 1956 Hundred Flowers movement, in the 1979 Democracy Wall movement, and again in 1989—and each time the protesters began anew. No group knew the history of protest in its own country or about the progress that predecessors had made. This was, Fang argued, because the Communist Party of China has a program for erasing the memory of protest, and it works. They were now applying it again, and it would likely work again. Indeed, many young Chinese today have only vague notions that something happened in 1989, and what they do “know” is a highly distorted government-sponsored version of events. Fang was right.
china  bio  story 
april 2013 by aries1988
Tingye Li, Instrumental in the Laser’s Development, Dies at 81 -
Dr. Li often quoted Confucius, though friends suspected he occasionally concocted his own learned sayings and then attributed them to the sage. He frequently went to China to help it develop optical communications. The Chinese Academy sent his family a letter at his death praising him for helping China “leapfrog to a higher level” in handling telecommunications traffic.

In a speech on his 80th birthday, Dr. Li revealed that he had proposed marriage to his wife for their next life, after they are both reincarnated. She tentatively agreed, he said, if he behaved.
bio  scientist 
january 2013 by aries1988
有关计算机的个人记忆 : 利薄营胡同十九号
重感冒时读完了《乔布斯传》,一边发烧,一边看他病危的那些章节,不禁悚然。这是一本好书,有一些部分和我的个人记忆重叠,更多的时候带我走向了很多事情的背景。 本文缘起:本来是想写写乔布斯传书评的,结果一开头就开始写别的事情了。我和Keledoll还有几位朋友一直在参与一个叫一分钟学堂的教育项目。前一阵子,我们讨论,该写写个人的教育记忆。她写了她的一封信。从我的角度,作为一个家境小康的北京孩子,对于计算机的接触有着很大的便利。倒是一个有特色的角度。这篇文章我发给她作为讨论的一部分了。
essay  bio 
august 2012 by aries1988

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