2010年6月25日 星期五

Edison * Back "The Wizard of Menlo Park"

Library of Congress / Science Faction / Corbis

"The Wizard of Menlo Park"
Twenty-nine years old at the time he moved to Menlo Park, Edison was already a successful inventor and businessman. One of the reasons he chose to set up shop in Menlo Park was that it provided a quiet, rural setting where he and his colleagues could work without distraction, yet it was not far from a railroad connection to New York, a mere 25 miles away, allowing him easy acc


Thomas Edison's Menlo Park
Bettmann / Corbis

Think Tank
The laboratory's open floor plan, seen here in an illustration originally published in 1880, allowed for easy communication between Edison and his associates. The layout created an informal environment that Edison felt would foster creativity. He had no rules for work and no time clock, but the team worked long hours, enjoyed one another's company and produced substantial results.


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1999191_2156985,00.html#ixzz0ruqZjf8t

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1999191_2156983,00.html#ixzz0ruqTaC8A

Catherine Lim

http://catherinelim.sg/

這為年近70的自由的作家
新加坡社會批評家
可真不是蓋的

  1. Lesson - Nextext

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    Catherine Lim, one of Singapore's most important writers, was born of Chinese parents ...(1993), The Bond Maid (1995), and The Teardrop Story Woman (1998). ...
    www.nextext.com/index.cfm?fuseaction... - 頁庫存檔 - 類似內容
  2. The Teardrop Story Woman / The Bondmaid by Catherine Lim ...

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    ... and a close bond with her maternal grandmother teaches her to love Chinese gods ... In The Tear Drop Story Woman, Catherine Lim touches on a time and place in which ... Catherine Lim is a good story-teller, she draws the reader into ...
    www.eclectica.org/v5n2/skea_lim.html - 頁庫存檔 - 類似內容
  3. catherinelim.sg

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    The prime minister's Press Secretary responded to Catherine Lim's second article to say ...and the woman wearing it is Catherine Lim, 67, arguably the most vivid ..... to pick up once more that natural bond of loving and connecting. ...

2010年6月22日 星期二

John McCain: a Run Just to Stay in Place

政治人物就是這樣 此一時 彼一時 要識時務談何容易



Political Memo

From Run for the White House to a Run Just to Stay in Place


PARKER, Ariz. — He still tells the story about the call he got at 2 a.m. from the woman in Chandler who was upset about changes in her garbage pick up, and the ossified joke concerning two Irish brothers (“The only ethnic group in America you can still joke about”) boozed up at a bar.

Joshua Lott for The New York Times

John McCain greets guests during a town hall meeting in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

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The Caucus

The latest on President Obama, his administration and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion.

Joshua Lott for The New York Times

John McCain, seeking re-election to the Senate, listened to a question at a gathering at a center for the elderly in Parker, Ariz.

Just as he did in 2008, and 2000, and most likely in the tender years of his earliest campaigns here — long before “that one,” maverick, and not-a-maverick — he takes extra time for veterans, freshly scrubbed little kids and older women who wait patiently at the back of a senior center with one of his many books and a camera. He still calls the room “my friends.”

But less than two years after he was defeated by Barack Obama, nothing seems quite the same for Senator John McCain, who has gone from being his party’s candidate for president rallying 1,000 supporters at a Florida football stadium to furiously defending his Senate seat before 60 recession-weary residents in a Hampton Inn in Lake Havasu, Ariz.

Gone are the jovial back-and-forths with veteran biker dudes at state fairs, long bus rides through South Carolina watching the U.S. Open with Senator Lindsey Graham and visions of party dominance in Washington. Gone are his efforts to engage Mr. Obama directly; instead, he portrays himself as taking on the status quo of Mr. Obama’s Washington.

Mr. McCain’s new position is one of defense: he is fending off a primary fight from the right flank of his party in the form of former Representative J. D. Hayworth, as well as withering criticism of his former position on immigration from constituents. He also seems to be engaged in a battle within himself, hewing to the high road, as he has historically done, but at times unleashing the anger he seems to feel about the outcome of the 2008 race.

Mr. Hayworth trails Mr. McCain in polls, fund-raising and endorsements. The Phoenix area is dotted with large billboards for Mr. McCain, and Mr. Hayworth’s campaign remains strikingly upstart.

But between the unusually late primary date of Aug. 24 — which could have an impact on turnout — and the volatility of an energized primary base that has never quite cottoned to Mr. McCain, his team is concerned enough to keep him pressing the flesh all his non-Washington days.

On the trail these days, there is less of the energy generated by a run for the White House. And the candidate often seems to be striking a different tone.

Back in 2008, at a town-hall-style meeting, presidential candidate McCain snatched the microphone away from an older woman who referred to Mr. Obama as a terrorist and protested: “No, no ma’am. He’s a decent family man with whom I happen to have some disagreements.”

The other day, in front of about 100 people at the Parker Community/Senior Center here in western Arizona, a man who identified himself as a Vietnam veteran said, “I want to know what this guy, what’s his name, let me see, Hussein, Barack Hussein Obama, is doing about our health care.”

Senate candidate McCain’s face flashed with brief amusement, and then he gazed toward the scuffed floor and settled into a grimace. “We all want to be respectful of the president of the United States,” he said.

Both remarkably spritely and just this side of cranky, a visibly thinner Mr. McCain zips around Arizona regularly these days, scurrying from public forum to campaign office opening to West Valley business luncheon. The crowds can be loving or volatile.

Speaking without notes on subjects like North Korea, deficit spending, immigration policy and Social Security for 20 minutes at a time, Mr. McCain often reflects the experience and savvy he has come by honestly through years on the stump.

But just as often he squints as if he is bracing for a verbal blow. And he can shift from the animated Mr. McCain of past campaigns — quick with a joke or a warm “Thank you for your service” to a young mother whose husband is on his third tour to Iraq — to being uneasy and defensive about the parochial issues he finds himself hectored about.

“I’m not going to come in here and tell the local government what to do,” Mr. McCain snapped at Darla Tilley, director of the Parker center for the elderly, who pressed him in early June on the lack of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in her county. A little while later, before leaving for his next stop, Mr. McCain pivoted to contrition. “I hope to be more like you,” he told her.

In an interview later, Ms. Tilley said she had been upset less by the exchange than by the fact that “the senator didn’t really seem to know or understand how many state-funded programs we have lost here.”

If it galls Mr. McCain, a two-time presidential candidate, senior senator and war hero to have to race across this vast state to defend himself against a former radio talk show host who once suggested that same-sex marriage could lead to nuptials with animals, it is not readily apparent.

He never mentions Mr. Hayworth by name and has so far refused to debate him. “I have a day job,” he said in response to one voter who pressed him on this. McCain campaign officials refused numerous requests for interviews.

Most often Mr. McCain is flanked by just an aide or two — the old posse of elected officials and fellow war heroes back home or plotting their own political futures — while he toughs it out at a North Scottsdale library before voters who are not afraid to confront him.

“We all know what happened after 9/11,” said one man in the audience here. “Why didn’t you close this border down? Where were you, Senator?”

The senator sparred at the library with a voter, Richard Martin, who took him to task for 15 minutes over his history of immigration legislation, his distaste for torture and his refusal to debate his opponent. “You won’t have any debates,” Mr. Martin fumed. “You’re afraid of J. D. Hayworth. The people in Arizona deserve debates.”

As several stops with him around his state this month demonstrate, Mr. McCain, whose tirelessness at age 73 is a thing of visual wonder, is often under fire from voters weary of shape- shifting politicians this year.

Nowhere is this more clear than on immigration. Mr. McCain has been dinged for moving significantly from his former position of giving working papers to some illegal immigrants to a border-control-only approach on the issue. But it is crystal clear that this is what his primary constituents want and expect from him.

While border crime has decreased in this state in recent years, the killing of a prominent rancher in the south by what the police suspect was an illegal immigrant set off rage across the state, and helped fuel a tough new state law directed at immigrants.

Repeatedly over three days, Mr. McCain was asked why he had supported “amnesty” for illegal immigrants in the past (“I never supported amnesty,” he says), and how he feels about a proposed state law intended to prevent children of illegal immigrants born in the United States from automatically becoming citizens. (He deflected the question.) One woman suggested she would like to “get a gun” and help border agents herself, a not-uncommon refrain here.

“People in the southern part of the state are not safe in their homes,” Mr. McCain said repeatedly, to the sound of applause.

Yet for all his oratory about Arizona issues, Mr. McCain is also a one-man show of Washington bashing, generally focused on the deficit and the new health care plan.

“My favorite bumper sticker is the one that says, ‘Don’t tell Obama what comes after a trillion,’ ” he said, using a reliable laugh line.

2010年6月21日 星期一

John Updike’s Archive: A Great Writer at Work

幾年前 Hans 有幾本他的文集 (每本700頁以上) 我接受了ㄅ


John Updike’s Archive: A Great Writer at Work

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When John Updike died of lung cancer in January 2009, at 76, there seemed little left to learn about him. Not only was he among the most prolific writers of his time, but he was also among the most autobiographical, recasting the details of his life in an outpouring of fiction, poetry, essays and criticism that appeared with metronomic regularity in the pages of The New Yorker and in books published at a rate of almost one a year for more than half a century.
Dennis Stock/Knopf

A Knopf publicity photo of John Updike, used in conjunction with the release of Updike’s “Telephone Poles and Other Poems” in 1963.

Alfred A. Knopf/Reuters

John Updike in a Knopf publicity photo from around 1960.

Jesse Frohman/Corbis

John Updike, circa 1997.

Yet Updike was a private man, if not a recluse like J. D. Salinger or a phantom like Thomas Pynchon, then a one-man gated community, visible from afar but firmly sealed off, with a No Trespassing sign posted in front.

Updike cultivated his embowered solitude early. At 25, with no books yet published, he fled New York (and a writing job at The New Yorker) and moved to the Massachusetts shore, an hour north of Boston, where he remained for the next five decades, perching eventually on an 11-acre estate he shared with his second wife, Martha Updike, in Beverly Farms. There he assumed the remote aspect of a literary squire, ensconced in a nest of second-floor offices overlooking the Atlantic and descending twice a week for rounds of golf at the exclusive Myopia Hunt Club. He surfaced intermittently for interviews or readings, invariably presenting a mask of debonair geniality, only to retreat once more.

But all the while he was fending off the public, Updike was also leaving a trail of clues to his works and days: an enormous archive fashioned as meticulously as one of his lathe-turned sentences. The archive was vitally important to him,” Mrs. Updike said in a telephone interview, especially in his last days. “He saw it not just as a collection of his working materials, but as also a record of the time he lived in.” Today the material crowds an aisle and a half of metal shelving in the basement of Houghton Library, Harvard University’s rare book and manuscript repository that sits atop stone stairs in Harvard Yard, a short walk from Hollis Hall, the redbrick dormitory where Updike lived as a freshman 60 years ago.

“Updike’s archive may be the last great paper trail,” Adam Begley, a critic and literary journalist now at work on a biography of Updike, said in an e-mail message. “Anyone interested in how a great writer works will find here as full an explanation as we’re likely to get.”

But Mr. Begley and others will have to wait two years, the time archivists estimate they will need to catalog the contents of almost 170 boxes.

I was recently allowed an advance look, conducted over three days in Houghton’s reading room, long enough to sample a range of the holdings (among them typescripts of early short stories rejected by The Atlantic and Harper’s) and to confirm that they hold the keys to Updike’s literary universe. The papers also suggest that Updike was a more complex artist — and person — than he chose to admit.

Though he was known and envied for writing rapidly and easily and revising very little — a reputation he encouraged — the archive demonstrates the painstaking care he took to establish the tone and atmosphere of his novels.

Cartons deposited in the early 1990s offer a synoptic map of “Rabbit at Rest,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that concludes the earthly transit of Harry Rabbit Angstrom, the former Pennsylvania high school basketball king who remains Updike’s most famous creation.

Rabbit in Flux

An Eagle Typing box contains a handwritten draft, completed in January 1989. Hurried on to the page (in pencil on the back of the typescript of a previous book), the flowing sentences are constellated with crossings out, insertions and circled text as Updike honed, phrase by phrase, the middle-American idiom and the hurtling present-tense that are signatures of the Rabbit cycle.

So numerous were the emendations to the opening scene, set in a Florida airport, that Updike stapled a typed page to the handwritten draft, in which the initial paragraphs are thoroughly resequenced to create an effect less linear and more interior. Further reworking the opening paragraph, to draw out its theme of impending death, Updike made subtly significant improvements.

“The sensation chills and oppresses him, above and beyond the air-conditioning,” he had first typed. Retouching by pen, he tightened the phrasing and also inserted an inspired pun: “The sensation chills him, above and beyond the terminal air-conditioning.”

In addition to glimpses of the artist solving technical problems are materials that lay bare a sturdy foundation of background research. There are half-century-old snapshots of storefronts in Reading, Pa., the model for Rabbit’s hometown of Brewer, along with 1980s clippings from The Reading Eagle. There are also photocopied pages from medical books on heart disease as well as correspondence from a boyhood friend, a surgeon, who offered to arrange for Updike to observe an angioplasty procedure. (Rabbit undergoes one, described with clinical precision.)

And there is a memo from a researcher catching Updike up on current sales and commissions at Toyota franchises of the kind owned by the Angstrom family, along with photocopied pages from a handbook on car salesmanship, with Updike’s marginal notes, and several pages (obtained through the Federal Highway Administration) showing sample Florida license plates. Other folders include a jotted list of basketball moves (“double-pump lane jumper”) and a letter from Bob Ryan, a sportswriter for The Boston Globe, summarizing the career of the 1980s N.B.A. dunk-shot specialist Darryl Dawkins.

There is even a wrapper from a Planters Peanut Bar, as lovingly preserved as a pressed autumn leaf, evidently used by Updike to describe the moment when Rabbit, addicted to high-cholesterol junk food, greedily devours the candy and then, still unsatisfied, “dumps the sweet crumbs out of the wrapper into his palm and with his tongue licks them all up like an anteater” — an early warning that he’s headed for a heart attack.

Letters to Plowville

But the most revealing documents in the archive may well be the ones Updike guarded most vigilantly during his lifetime: his voluminous correspondence, including hundreds of letters to his parents, Wesley Updike, a high school math teacher, and Linda Hoyer Updike, an aspiring writer whose ambitions awoke similar ones in her son, an only child. She bound many of the letters in a matching pair of red morocco leather volumes embossed with the words “Letters to Plowville,” commemorating the name of the family farm near Shillington, Pa.

Covering the period from 1950, the beginning of Updike’s freshman year at college, to 1967, when he was a prizewinning and best-selling novelist, this correspondence, almost always typed, provides a vivid journal of Updike’s progress from farm boy to worldly sophisticate and from apprentice writer to serious artist.

When he arrived at Harvard, Updike was a bony-shouldered scholarship boy from a public high school, afflicted with a stutter and a severe case of psoriasis. Accustomed to excelling, he was determined to do so again, but his competition included polished products of Exeter and Groton.

Fearful of losing his scholarship, he fretted before every exam and duly recorded the results, even on quizzes, in his letters home. “I seem to be somewhat of a grind,” he wrote in an early letter, adding, “This surprises no one more than it does me.” Since he planned to be a writer, he majored in English to force himself to read classic literature. (His own taste ran to James Thurber.) And though he wanted to master French, he dropped it when he discovered he had little aptitude for languages. He finished ninth in his class but was chagrined when two of his oral examiners, noting his weak grasp of classical literature, hesitated before awarding him summa cum laude distinction.

The classroom was only one field of potential conquest. From the outset Updike, at work on his first novel, hoped to study with the novelist Albert Guerard and the poet Archibald MacLeish, both on the Harvard English faculty. Neither was impressed by Updike’s submissions.

“I gave Mr. Guerard segments of my book to read,” Updike informed his parents in his freshman year, “and when he held his little conference with me to determine my admittance into the course, he said ‘I may be giving you much the same treatment Thomas Wolfe got here at Harvard.’ Evidently Wolfe was not admired by the English Department at Harvard at that time when he was a student. Mr. Guerard went on to say, rather kindly and apologetic, ‘You may be a fine writer, Updike, but at present I do not think it would be a good idea to have two people with such different notions of prose as you and I in the same course.’ In short, I was firmly booted out.” Updike conceded that it wasn’t simply a matter of clashing sensibilities: “He called what I had written uneven and uncontrolled.”

These rejections steeled Updike in his growing belief that American writers had grown infatuated with European modernists and should instead pay closer attention to their own time and place.

“We do not need men like Proust and Joyce; men like this are a luxury, an added fillip that an abundant culture can produce only after the more basic literary need has been filled,” Updike wrote to his parents in 1951, when he was 19. “This age needs rather men like Shakespeare, or Milton, or Pope; men who are filled with the strength of their cultures and do not transcend the limits of their age, but, working within the times, bring what is peculiar to the moment to glory. We need great artists who are willing to accept restrictions, and who love their environments with such vitality that they can produce an epic out of the Protestant ethic” — a prescient formulation of what he would later achieve in the Rabbit novels and his Pennsylvania short stories. “Whatever the many failings of my work,” he concluded, “let it stand as a manifesto of my love for the time in which I was born.”

A Paragon of Industry

At the time Updike’s work consisted mainly of cartoons and lighthearted prose and poetry he poured into The Harvard Lampoon, the campus humor magazine, “that snobbiest of snob organizations,” as he wrote once he became its president, or top editor, in 1953. A paragon of industry, he almost single-handedly filled entire issues, even as he was submitting cartoons and light verse to The New Yorker. These were rejected but with encouraging comments from William Maxwell, the novelist and editor who would become Updike’s mentor when the magazine hired him in 1955.

Productive though he was, Updike suffered spasms of self-doubt. Might he be a glib entertainer and not a serious artist? “I am not a mental superman a la Blake,” he confessed to his parents, referring to William Blake, the late 18th-century visionary poet who worked in obscurity and poverty. “There is no danger of my eking out an existence in a garret,” he added. “If all I have is talent, industry and intelligence, I should be able to please enough people to make money at it.”

The “Letters to Plowville” also reflect a time when a privileged college student like Updike could plot his future while many thousands his age were serving and dying in the Korean War, an event he scarcely mentions. He has equally little to say about McCarthyism, even as the anti-Communist investigations of the day caused an uproar at Harvard and its administrators and faculty came under attack.

But politics, for Updike, as for so many others who came of age in the 1950s, formed the background to the more absorbing concerns of career, marriage and family.

The “Letters to Plowville” describe his courtship of Mary Pennington, a Radcliffe student he met in an art history class and married the summer after his junior year, and their brief period in Manhattan, when he worked at The New Yorker, his dream job, writing Talk of the Town items, short stories and poems.

But success brought compromises. A crisis came in 1959, when his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, urged him to expurgate the explicit sex scenes in “Rabbit, Run,” his first major novel. A story of adultery, it was daring at a time when American courts were still deciding if “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” D. H. Lawrence’s long-suppressed novel, should be considered obscene.

Even after the government abandoned that case, in spring 1960, Mr. Knopf and his legal advisers pressed for revisions. “The issue seems to me to amount to whether I am really going to write in my life, or just be an elegant hack,” a distraught Updike wrote to his parents in June 1960. But when Mr. Knopf, equally adamant, said, “he was unwilling to undergo the risk of printing the book as it stands,” Updike relented.

Within a few years obscenity standards relaxed, and Updike restored the original language, carefully pasting typed insertions in the margins of an early printed edition preserved in the Houghton archive.

Eventually sexual adventure, often rendered with graphic directness, would become a staple of Updike’s fiction, as his mission to record the Protestant ethic met the upheavals of the sexual revolution. This was a conflict he explored in “Couples” (1968), with its ritual spouse swapping, and in the Maples short stories, with their intimate picture of a dissolving first marriage. Some of Updike’s last letters, written when his two sons and two daughters were grown, weigh the painful cost those closest to him paid for his high ambition and remorseless work habits.

But he had chosen his course early and at the end had few regrets. At 75, in a reply to questions sent to him by the novelist Nicholas Delbanco, Updike summed up his journey: “I set out to make a living with my pen, in privacy, in the commercial literary world as it then existed, and am grateful that I managed. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure; and it goes without saying that I’ve been lucky. No impairing disease. No war I was asked to help fight. No stupefying poverty yet no family wealth or business to limit my freedom.”

For all his self-sufficiency, Updike acknowledged, he had received much help, above all from “The New Yorker when it still published many pages of fiction and Alfred A. Knopf Inc. when publishing was still a gambit for sensible gentlemen who trusted their own taste.” These advantages reflected “a world where books were a common currency of an enlightened citizenry,” he wrote. “Who wouldn’t, thus conditioned, want to keep writing forever, and try to make books that deserve to last?”

2010年6月20日 星期日

蔡瑞月

蔡瑞月先生雷石榆在中國重婚 而她卻還在自己的世界

0621 2010 Life is better than Utopia

昨晚看民視的"台灣演義"之蔡瑞月的故事
含淚
陳文成基金會在 2007/2008利用該場地

雷石榆1911年1996年), 原名雷社穩,廣東台山人。

生於廣東,父親在印尼經商。1933年赴日留學,在東京中央大學修習經濟系,期間曾參與中國左翼作家聯盟東京分盟,主編盟刊《東流》、《詩歌》。1934年在 日本結識《臺灣文藝》東京支部的負責人吳坤煌賴明弘,並在該刊物發表文章。又與詩人覃子豪紀弦共 組詩社。1947 年任臺大法學院任副教授,教授國文。1947年5 月與臺灣舞蹈家蔡瑞月結婚,定居台北中山北路二段48巷一幢日式宿舍。因政治因素遭臺大解聘,1949年6 月被捕,轉監基隆港務局,驅逐出境,寓居廣東,後任河北大學教授。蔡瑞月後來入獄三年。1990年在 中國河北保定與妻重聚,雷石榆賦詩曰:「蓬萊恩愛兩春秋,先後無辜作楚囚」,時雷已再婚。1996年病逝。


蔡瑞月

維基百科,自由的百科全書

跳轉到: 導 航, 搜 尋
蔡瑞月舞蹈社為台北市市定古蹟
這張照片怪怪的 似乎不對

蔡瑞月(1921年-2005年) 是台 灣舞蹈家,也是台灣現代舞的先驅。

目錄

[隱藏]

[編輯] 簡介

蔡瑞月於1921年出生於台南市台南第二高等女校畢業後前往日本學 習現代舞,並且於1945年畢 業於畢業日本石井綠舞蹈研究所。旅日期間,隨舞蹈團赴越南新加坡馬來亞緬甸及日本各大城市演出。蔡瑞月曾經在1947年台北中山堂表演,轟動藝術圈;之後與詩人雷石榆成婚,1949年雷 石榆被以匪諜罪名驅逐出境後,蔡瑞月也被逮捕並囚禁於綠島長達三年。

出獄後的蔡瑞月,繼續從事舞蹈的教學、創作與演出,並且在台北市中山北路開設「中華舞蹈社」教導年輕學子、兒童研習現代舞。但是蔡瑞月卻因為國民政府的禁令,而不能出國演出。1981年, 官方又再度干預並要求蔡瑞月和其子雷大鵬退出雷石榆好友馬思聰邀約的《晚霞》演出,1983年蔡 瑞月與雷大鵬移居澳洲,蔡瑞月在布里斯班繼從事續舞蹈創作。1994年, 蔡瑞月與雷石榆在中國保定再度見面。

2000 年開始,蔡瑞月進行一連串的舞作重建工作,2001年蔡 瑞月回到台灣,之後頻繁往返澳洲和台灣,2005年病逝於澳洲。

蔡瑞月所創辦的中華舞蹈社曾經一度因為台北捷運施工而將被拆除,但在當時台北市長陳水扁的堅持下被保留。1999年蔡 瑞月舞蹈社被指定為市定古蹟,但國民黨縱火焚毀,2003年才 告復原,並且以委外招標的方式經營。

[編輯] 捐款風波

特別費爭議的臺北市長馬英九2006年11月17日委託辦公室秘書,匯款600萬元予11個公益團體蔡瑞月文化基金會為此發出聲明感謝馬英九市長,並表示未對外透露捐款訊息。

[編輯] 大事紀

[編輯] 外部連結

[編輯] 參考資料

  • 李泰昌,《台灣的古蹟》2004,台北,遠足文化。
  • 李乾朗著,《臺北市古蹟簡介》,臺北市,台北市民政局,1998年。
  • 台閩古蹟網

2010年6月17日 星期四

Norman Macrae










The unacknowledged giant
Few journalists have had as great an influence—or been proved right so often—as the man who, for 23 years, was the deputy editor of The Economist

Jun 17th 2010


WHEN Norman Macrae died on June 11th, aged 89, no major British newspaper published an obituary of him. You could blame The Economist’s tradition of anonymity; you could blame the extraordinary modesty of the man himself who, if you tried to take his photo, would duck down and giggle, convinced that no one could possibly be interested in him.

Yet Norman was one of the intellectual giants of post-war Britain: one of the very few journalists who could bear comparison with the best brains of his time. Like Milton Friedman, he applied free-market principles to public services such as education and council housing. Like Daniel Bell, he charted the shift from the industrial to the post-industrial society. And like Peter Drucker he illuminated the internal workings of companies, the organisations that drove the West’s prosperity and guaranteed its freedoms.

He kept the flame of free-market thinking burning during the long night of collectivism. He predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, at a time when the CIA was obsessed by Russia’s growing strength, and foresaw the privatisation of industry, when other intellectuals were celebrating the triumph of the “mixed economy”.

Norman was the first journalist to “discover” Japan. In 1962 he wrote a survey predicting that a country most Westerners regarded as synonymous with knick-knacks and knock-offs would become an industrial power-house. He was also the first journalist to “discover” the internet. In 1984 he wrote another survey arguing that life was about to be transformed by “terminals” which would give users access to giant databases. He predicted that the 1973 energy shock would eventually lead to a surge in the supply of energy. He also dismissed the Club of Rome’s prediction that the world was about to run out of food as arrant nonsense.

The Economist was fortunate that Norman decided to park his formidable intellect at 25 St James’s Street. During his almost 40 years here—23 of them, from 1965 to 1988, as deputy editor—he did more than anyone else to provide the intellectual originality of what he liked to describe as “the world’s favourite viewspaper”. He constantly enlivened editorial meetings with proposals to allow Disneyworld to run the West’s cities or to move the British government from London to York. Roy Jenkins rightly described him as the “epitome of the internal spirit of The Economist”.

He could be a brutal editor and a savage critic of flabby ideas. He altered colleagues’ copy with abandon. But he was greatly liked, generous with his time and amiable in conversation. He was also a loyal company man, never allowing his growing renown to go to his head. He frequently slept in his office, his large frame heaped on the floor, and sweated blood to correct errant facts as well as to expunge creeping heresy. More than anyone else, he made sure that The Economist was not blown off course by the winds of ideological fashion or becalmed in routine reporting.

But if The Economist was lucky to find Norman, he was lucky to find The Economist. His website poses a question at the end of each of his essays: “Brilliant? Batty?” and invites readers to join the fray. His undoubted eccentricity was partly a matter of personal style. The words tumbled out in an incoherent jumble interrupted by heaving shoulders and gales of cackling laughter. His handwriting was such a scrawl that only one person in the world, his loyal secretary, Elizabeth Methold, could decipher it—and she could perform this miracle only by holding the script at arm’s length, half-shutting her eyes and (in her words) going into a trance.

The eccentricity extended to his writing. Norman was a punctilious student of statistics. But he was quite happy to illustrate a 1969 article on American productivity with the assertion that a time-and-motion study of housewives at the kitchen sink would “almost certainly find” that the average American housewife was twice as efficient as the average British one. Why? Because the American housewife was capable of instinctively working out in her head, for each chore, “some rough approximation of what modern businessmen call a critical path analysis”.

The Economist provided him with the ideal mixture of freedom and discipline. He could travel to any corner of the world he fancied to produce lengthy reports on anything he wished, from the state of America to the future of mankind. Many of these special reports became books. But he was reined in when he got a bit too wild—as when he advocated writing a cover leader championing a nasal spray to “cure” homosexuals (who, he thought, were driven that way by their aversion to the smell of their mothers). He was passed over three times for the editorship. But, in truth, he was in exactly the right position.


The crystal ball

His greatest gift was his uncanny ability to predict the future. But the problem with the future is that it eventually arrives. Visions that are called from the vasty deep become reality. Ideas that were once pooh-poohed as outlandish become commonplace. “Nobody listened, then everybody did,” Norman wrote ruefully in a 1991 article called “A future history of privatisation, 1992-2022”. To grasp his prescience, it is necessary to return to an era when today’s commonplaces were heresies.


Not so murky to him

During much of the post-war period the market was “out” and the benevolent state was “in”. Public intellectuals such as Kenneth Galbraith argued that the age of the entrepreneur had given way to the age of the giant corporation. Practical politicians poured money into British Steel and the Concorde project. The market meant chaos and unemployment; industrial policy meant smooth growth and jobs for all.

Norman saw this as a recipe for flabby politics and failed economics. In 1954 he coined the term “Butskellism” to describe the portmanteau politics of the Conservative chancellor of the exchequer, R.A. Butler, and a Labour predecessor, Hugh Gaitskell. Throughout the Butskellite era he relentlessly documented the failures of industrial policy and government planning.

This makes it sound as if Norman was nothing more than a prophet of the new right. But the truth is more complicated—and, as befits the man, more idiosyncratic. Even while he embraced the market on micro-economic policy, he remained more or less a Keynesian on macroeconomic policy until the late 1970s. He was a firm believer in pumping up demand with deficit spending and holding down inflation with incomes policy. No deficit was too big and no incomes policy too hopeless. He greeted the first macroeconomic flushes of Reaganism and Thatcherism with sceptical editorials before finally admitting that he had been wrong. It was perhaps the only time he was not ahead of the debate.

Norman also had no time for social conservatism. He worried about broken families and out-of-wedlock births, but entirely from a utilitarian rather than a moral point of view. He dismissed the religious right as vigorously as he dismissed feminists and environmentalists (“both simple and psychotic Americans have too often been dominated by religious liars”). He argued that one of man’s greatest problems in the coming years would be growing life-expectancy—and advocated a “system of planned death” to deal with it. In a survey of America in 1975 he predicted that euthanasia would soon be as acceptable as abortion: “It will not be at all surprising if there is in some quite near decade-and-a-half a similarly swift and equally civilised dash to acceptance of killing off old codgers (by then, like me) as there has been, in so short a twinkling, towards the more emotive act of killing unborn babies.”


In Stalin’s Russia

Why did Norman think as he did? Why did he reject the post-war consensus about the virtues of government? And why did he keep his distance from a new right that embraced so many of his ideas? Part of the answer lies in his personality. Norman was an extraordinarily self-contained figure. He seldom used his telephone to call people, preferring to sit in his office poring over statistics. He had few doubts about the rightness of his opinions. Once he had an idea in his head he pushed it to its logical conclusion—and if he was proved wrong he simply shifted to another idea, which he pursued with equal certainty. Richard Holt Hutton once wrote about Walter Bagehot’s “dash and doubt”. Norman was just dash.

But his outlook was also shaped by his odd adolescence. His father was a British consul in Moscow in 1935-38, and Norman’s summer holidays from school were spent there at the height of Stalin’s purges. He saw members of the embassy staff—including maids his own age—disappearing, probably to be shot. Before and after his posting to Moscow his father also had jobs in Nazi-dominated Europe. Many of his family’s Jewish friends were terrorised and later slaughtered.

When he left school in 1941, Norman wrote later,

my first job was a public-sector one, with public-sector productivity, as a teenager supposed to throw bombs about as an RAF navigator, creating a slum in the heart of the continent. By the time I got there, the Russians were coming in from the other side. All the politicians, including Churchill and Roosevelt, told us these were fine liberating democrats. And of course I knew from those school summer holidays so briefly before that those were astonishing lies. That has given me one advantage in my 40 years as a newspaperman. I have never since then believed a word either politicians or public relations officers have said.

Norman’s early experiences did not just sour him to politicians. They soured him to collectivism in all its many varieties. He had no time for the government-worshipping intellectuals he found when he studied economics at Cambridge in 1945-47. He loathed the feminists and black-power activists he came across in America in the late 1960s and 1970s, smelling in their affection for group rights and their willingness to use intimidation the same intolerance he had smelt in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. He took his children on trips to eastern Europe in order to teach them the difference between freedom and tyranny. He seldom missed an opportunity to champion the “hard hats” over the “soft heads”.

Norman’s case for market capitalism did not rest merely on its ability to create wealth, but on its capacity to advance individual freedom. He was almost as critical of big-company capitalism as he was of big-government socialism. In a 1976 survey on “The coming entrepreneurial revolution” he argued that big business was as doomed as big government. Hierarchical managers sitting in their skyscrapers could no longer arrange how brain workers should best use their imaginations. The future lay with small firms that could exploit individual creativity and with bigger firms that could split themselves into small centres and encourage competition between them.

Norman’s critique of the welfare state was inspired by a similar belief in individualism. He pointed out that the market had produced a remarkable equalisation in people’s lives. Rich and poor had access to the same consumer goods—the same television programmes, the same comfortable armchairs, the same plethora of goods in supermarkets, which were spreading from the suburbs to the slums. In 1945 the average Englishman had only one pair of trousers; in the swinging 1960s he had access not only to lots of pairs of (tight) trousers but also to holidays in the sun and cheap mortgages.

The great exception to this story of equalisation was the state. The state distributed its largesse disproportionately to the rich—exactly the opposite of what was supposed to happen—allowing them to end up with better schools and better health services. It also trapped the poorest in poverty, in sink estates with lousy schools and soaring crime and in public-sector jobs with little prospect of long-term prosperity. Norman argued that the only way to change this was to empower individuals—to allow them to own their own homes, through privatisation, and to choose their own schools, through vouchers. Give power to the state and you end up with self-serving interest groups. Give power to the individual and you apply the same creative ingenuity to public services as companies have long done to the invention of washing powder.

Norman’s belief in individualism also drove his enthusiasm for technology. This enthusiasm provoked widespread mirth at The Economist. The man who predicted the rise of the internet in 1984 and preached the virtues of telecommuting in articles on almost anything was by far the most incompetent member of the staff when it came to using new (or not so new) inventions. In battles with the office fax machine he usually came off worse. It was rumoured that paper clips baffled him. The staff were amazed when the Atex publishing system was introduced in 1982 and Norman revealed that he could actually type.

But as a techno-visionary he had few equals. He predicted a world in which “books, files, television programmes, computer information and telecommunications will merge”—in which people could explore the world’s knowledge repositories at a touch of a button, and in which readers would have access to custom-made newspapers paid for by targeted advertising (in typical fashion, he imagined this newspaper emerging from a fax machine at the back of the television). He saw that this revolution would have huge implications for the balance of power. Giant organisations such as governments and companies would lose their comparative advantage. Entrepreneurs would be empowered. Taxpayers would flee the coop and telecommute from rural villages—thus putting more pressure on governments to give up their powers and start serving people rather than bossing them about.

The last clue to Norman was that he was a consummate newspaperman. In print—or indeed on the lecture podium—the cackling incoherence of his speech simply vanished, and he was invariably lucid and frequently amusing, even coruscating. (A similar stylishness could be seen on the tennis court, where the immobility of middle age did nothing to inhibit a well-aimed slice that flummoxed younger and nimbler players.) He was one of the best word-coiners of his generation, producing “intrapreneurship” and “telecommuting” (the coinage of “privatisation” and “Eurocrat” is disputed). He littered his prose with memorable phrases. Milton Friedman was “the maddening gnome of Chicago”. American ghettoes exhibited “public squalor amid private non-affluence”. In diagnosing the failure of British firms to get the most out of computers, he likened them to “former slum dwellers who, when promoted into being council-house tenants, tended to keep coal in the bath”. In championing the virtues of entrepreneurship and people working in small teams, he pointed out that “Jesus Christ tried 12, and that proved one too many.”

Everything he wrote was compulsively readable—partly because he mixed battiness with brilliance and partly because he came at everything from such unexpected angles. His 1975 survey of “America’s third century” started by posing a surprising public-policy quandary:

Our children will probably “progressively” be able to order their babies with the shape and strength and level of intelligence that they choose, as well as alter existing human beings so as to insert artificial intelligence, retune brains, change personality, modify moods, control behaviour.

That raised troubling ethical issues which would be best decided by a world that was shaped by America rather than “the inexperienced Japanese”.

Yet it was those Japanese who best demonstrated Norman’s skills as a journalist. In 1962 he visited Japan to get a measure of how the country had changed since the second world war. He learned little from talking to British ex-pats. But then, in a Mitsubishi factory, he came across a British machine-tool salesman who told him that Japanese workers were getting three times as much out of their machines as their better paid British counterparts.

The resulting article, “Consider Japan”, sealed his global reputation as a journalist and turned him into a hero in Japan (on his retirement in 1988 he was honoured by the emperor with the Order of the Rising Sun). He argued that the key to Japanese success lay in their plethora of tiny entrepreneurial component-makers and in their ability to break up huge plants into “small but brotherly” profit centres. He predicted that the Japanese productivity miracle would transform the world economy.


Arise Sir Norman, knight of the rising sun!


An eternal optimist

But for all his interest in the rest of the world, he was a very English figure. His ideas were rooted in the English liberalism of the 19th century—a liberalism that celebrated the individual over the collective, progress over reaction, free thought over superstition. This set him against both the “over-government” that had triumphed in his youth and the religious conservatism that prospered under Reaganism. But it also turned him into an irrepressible optimist. Few people since Bagehot and Macaulay have been so convinced that life is getting better, and that it will get better still if only a few doltish politicians can be elbowed out of the way.

This commitment to classical liberalism ensures that much of his work continues to sing. Norman devoted his energies to two of the most ephemeral bits of journalism—opinionated leaders and lengthy exercises in futurology. Yet a remarkable amount of what he wrote remains relevant today. His 1975 survey on America’s 200th birthday, in which he chastises the Democrats for flirting with the Fabian cult of government expertise, conservatives for flirting with religious extremism, and business for underinvesting in innovation, might easily be a portrait of Barack Obama’s America. Big government has been on the march for much of the past decade. The Beijing consensus celebrates the alliance of big government and big companies. Much of the public sector has resisted the power of vouchers and internal markets. The battle that Norman fought for so long has still not been won.

Obituary

2010年6月5日 星期六

Paul R. Garabedian

Paul Garabedian, Mathematician at N.Y.U., Dies at 82


Paul R. Garabedian, a mathematician whose computer computations helped lead to fuel-efficient wings for modern jetliners, died May 13 at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.

Levinson/NYU Photo Bureau ****** James Devitt Deputy Director for Media Relations New York University Office of Public Affairs 212.998.6808 james.devitt@nyu.edu 914.522.3774—cell 25 W. 4th Street, Room 513 New York, NY 10012 http://www.nyu.edu/public.affairs/ ONE TIME USE ONLY!!!

Paul R. Garabedian

The cause was prostate cancer, according to New York University, where Dr. Garabedian was a professor of mathematics and the director of the division of computational fluid dynamics at the university’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

Passenger airplanes fly at speeds approaching the speed of sound. That posed a problem for wing designers, because as the air is whipped around the curved shape of a wing, it briefly accelerates to supersonic speeds. That generates shock waves — essentially small sonic booms — that greatly increase air resistance, requiring more fuel to maintain speeds.

In the 1960s and ’70s, aerospace engineers tried to solve the problem by seeking exact mathematical equations or relying on intuition. Dr. Garabedian, who started his career as a pure mathematician working on partial differential equations, was one of the first to realize that computer simulations could provide accurate enough approximations.

Indeed, his computer simulations showed it was possible to design a wing that produced no shock waves at all.

“That had quite a lot of impact around the industry,” said Antony Jameson, an engineering professor at Stanford who collaborated with Dr. Garabedian on the wing work.

Dr. Garabedian’s technique produced wings that were “shock free” for only specific values of speed and lift, so his shock-free wing designs were of limited practical use for aerospace engineers and never became the basis for the actual design of airplanes. Nonetheless, the fact that there was a shock-free solution “changed people’s thinking,” Dr. Jameson said.

In the late ’70s, Dr. Garabedian switched his focus from wings to nuclear fusion, looking for magnetic field structures that could better hold and harness hot gases for future power plants. He was still working on that problem at his death.

Paul Roesel Garabedian was born in Cincinnati on Aug. 2, 1927, and was taught at home by his parents, who both held Harvard graduate degrees. Harvard rejected him when he applied for college at 16, and he attended Brown University instead. After graduating from Brown, he went to Harvard for his master’s and doctoral studies, completing his Ph.D. in 1948.

After working for one year at the University of California, Berkeley, and nine years at Stanford, Dr. Garabedian joined New York University and remained there for the next 51 years.

He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Among many awards, Dr. Garabedian received the Birkhoff Prize in Applied Mathematics and the National Academy of Sciences Award in Applied Mathematics and Numerical Analysis. His first book, Partial Differential Equations, published in 1964, continues to be used worldwide. Dr. Garabedian is survived by his wife, Lynnel; two daughters, Emily Garabedian of Riverside, Calif., and Catherine Garabedian of Boston; and two grandchildren.

Although Dr. Garabedian’s biggest academic contributions were in computational calculations, “he never wrote a computer program himself,” Dr. Jameson recalled about their collaborations in the 1970s.

Dr. Jameson said that Dr. Garabedian would sit in his N.Y.U. office behind a large desk, “which was completely bare,” and write in a 4-inch-by-6-inch notebook, “which none of us ever saw.”

While Dr. Garabedian reviewed and understood the computer programs, it was his colleagues like Dr. Jameson who wrote them. That made him something of an anomaly in his field.

“His style was kind of astonishing,” Dr. Jameson said.

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