Saturday, May 27, 2006

Brooklyn Jazz Renaissance

High-Quality Music in Casual Cafés

Published: May 26, 2006

ON almost any given Sunday, the trumpeter John McNeil walks out of his apartment and down a few tree-lined blocks to Night and Day, a bistro on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. Since February, Mr. McNeil has held a weekly gig in a rear annex of the restaurant with a quartet he formed with the tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry. A hangout for neighborhood residents and a magnet for musicians, the engagement has become a fixture of Brooklyn's rich and booming jazz scene.


Donna Alberico for The New York Times

At the Tea Lounge, a patron, top, works on a laptop while listening to Curtis Hasselbring, above, on trombone, play with Andrew D'Angelo on sax and Shane Endsley on trumpet.

Richard Perry/The New York Times

The Tony Malaby Tuba Trio plays Barbès, in Park Slope, known as the vanguard of the new Brooklyn jazz scene, while, from left, Vlad Ouzienko, Gregory Boleslavsky and Jeffrey Altman listen from front-row seats.

The rise of that scene — which, like its borough, is an assemblage of enclaves — has been one of the most significant developments for jazz in New York in recent years. (Every bit as significant as the Brooklyn rock explosion of a few years ago, with which it shouldn't be confused.) Through a growing network of low-rent spaces mostly booked by enterprising musicians, Brooklyn has assumed a vital role in the city's larger jazz culture. And the music has been a boon for listeners of all kinds, including those who have to cross the East River to hear it.

To his great delight, Mr. McNeil barely has to cross the street. "I've lived here since the early 1970's," he said one Sunday, between sets at Night and Day. For a long time he was one of many Brooklyn jazz citizens who had to travel to Manhattan for staples of employment and entertainment. Many musicians still make that commute, occasionally to perform at marquee clubs like the Blue Note and the Village Vanguard, but more often to hold court in small rooms like the 55 Bar, Fat Cat and the Cornelia Street Café, which is owned by Robin Hirsch, one of two partners behind Night and Day.

In a sense Brooklyn's jazz clubs operate on the same plane as those West Village bars. (It's not uncommon for a group to play one night at the 55 Bar and the next at a spot in Brooklyn.) The difference between the two scenes, in terms of audience, is outlined succinctly by Mr. Hirsch, based on firsthand expertise: "The Village will draw an international crowd, while Park Slope is strictly local."

Certainly the crowd is overwhelmingly local at Tea Lounge on Union Street in Park Slope. Walk into the cavernous coffeehouse on a Thursday or Friday night, and you'll probably spot a few strollers nestled among the couches, along with laptop computers and stylish casual attire. You'll also see adventurous young jazz musicians playing for tips, since Tea Lounge doesn't have a cover charge.

That policy attracts an audience more random and robust than the musicians might otherwise hope to reach, especially in Manhattan. This winter the alto saxophonist Andrew D'Angelo played one show to more than 100 people, a large crowd for an avant-garde jazz show. Some of the listeners paid a suggested donation; others merely paid attention. Oren Arnon, who books the room, recently pegged its vibe: "a combination of quality jazz and something social, which doesn't happen often enough in this city."

A similar ethos prevails at Barbès, universally acknowledged as the vanguard (Village Vanguard, even) of the new Brooklyn jazz scene. "We tried to build a no-pressure environment for audiences and musicians," said Olivier Conan, who owns the bar with a fellow French expatriate and musician, Vincent Douglas. The club's success confirms the wisdom of that premise.

Barbès may be the place most responsible for the perception of a Brooklyn jazz renaissance. Its cozy dimensions suit small audiences and rapt attention. And its booking describes a rough bouquet of sounds: from French musette to Brazilian forró, as well as multiple strains of jazz, from Gypsy swing to collective free improvisation.

Long-term residencies, hardly a staple in Manhattan, are a prominent feature of the programming at Barbès. The violinist Jenny Scheinman usually plays on Tuesday nights, seasoning her music with flecks of jazz, classical and rustic folk. Wednesdays are devoted to an avant-garde series organized by the saxophonist Michaël Attias. (He isn't the only musician maintaining a series in the area; six blocks south, the keyboardist James Carney books Sunday nights at Bar 4, a red-lighted dive.)

Last month the clarinetist and saxophonist Chris Speed started Skirl, an independent record label with the express purpose of documenting some of the experimental artists in the regular Barbès orbit. The label's next release party is scheduled for Thursday at the club.

Experimentation and eclecticism are hardly limited to Park Slope. In Williamsburg they converge at Rose Live Music, a stylish lounge on Grand Street that opened just a few months ago. They come together even more explicitly during the Williamsburg Jazz Festival, which will have its fourth season in September.

But nothing beats the neighborhood's leading spot, Zebulon Café Concert, which combines the flea-market chic of Barbès (the owners, Guillaume Blestel and Jef and Jocelyn Soubiran, are French) with the no-cover rule of Tea Lounge (but with one significant distinction: every artist receives a guarantee). Zebulon's programming has lately leaned markedly toward world music, but the free-jazz violinist Billy Bang has made notable appearances, as has the composer and conductor Butch Morris.

Mr. Morris also helped inaugurate a more extreme outpost, the nonprofit Issue Project Room, when it relocated last June from the East Village into a silo on the Gowanus Canal. "The industrial environment tends to inspire a rugged sort of experimentation," said Suzanne Fiol, the organization's director, hours before a recent premiere by the Japanese composer Shoko Nagai.

Rugged experimentation of a different sort was one hallmark of the jazz scene in Brooklyn during its original heyday, from the late 1950's through the 60's. Throughout those years a cluster of African-American establishments thrived around Fulton Street and Nostrand Avenue.

One of them, the Blue Coronet, served as a laboratory for youngbloods like the tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter and the trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Another was immortalized by Mr. Hubbard with a 1965 Blue Note album called "The Night of the Cookers: Live at Club La Marchal," on which he locked horns with Lee Morgan in a casual but heated exchange.

"Going back to 1960, there was something loosely called a Brooklyn sound," said Robert Myers, referring in part to that album. "And it started with the venues, which gave the musicians license to explore new avenues onstage and not be confined by management." Until the close of 2004 Mr. Myers operated Up Over Jazz Café, a bar on Flatbush Avenue that fulfilled a similar function for the latest generation of post-bop strivers, like the tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland and the pianist Robert Glasper.

Mr. Glasper provides an illustrative example of the current Brooklyn-Manhattan jazz symbiosis. He arrived in the city at the tail end of the 1990's, settling in Brooklyn but matriculating at the New School University in Manhattan. He quickly plugged into a circuit of jam sessions stretching from Freddy's Backroom, on Dean Street in Park Slope, to Smalls, a crucible of young talent in Greenwich Village.

At Up Over Jazz he found steady work and a space to hone his craft. But after he earned the imprimatur of a Blue Note Records contract, his next career move was clear: a week at the Village Vanguard. (He concludes his second engagement there this weekend with his trio.)

Mr. Glasper's example also illustrates the existence of a parallel Brooklyn jazz movement among African-Americans in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. Self-consciously styled as a revival of Brooklyn's golden era, this scene includes institutions like Jazz 966, a series held for the last 16 years at the Fort Greene Senior Citizens Council; 651 Arts, a nonprofit concert presenting organization; and the Concord Baptist Church, which holds occasional jazz services. In April a consortium of these and other groups mounted the seventh annual Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival, with "Jazz: A Music of the Spirit" as its theme.

The author of that theme, the trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah, was a visible presence during the festival, especially at Sista's Place, a communally owned coffeehouse and salon in Bedford-Stuyvesant. "African-Americans have rarely owned the music's means of production," he said in a phone conversation. "The music has to be in our community if it's going to grow. We've got to have an alternative to mainstream institutions."

The crowd that packed Sista's Place one rainy Saturday for a festival performance by the trumpeter Charles Tolliver made it look as if Mr. Abdullah's objective was being fulfilled. Less expectedly, his words seemed nearly as pertinent to a performance held on the same night at the Center for Improvisational Music, or CIM, a nonprofit educational effort run by the trumpeter Ralph Alessi near the northern stretch of the Gowanus Canal.

It featured the alto saxophonist Tim Berne, one of the early homesteaders of the newly ascendant Brooklyn jazz community. Mr. Berne long ago claimed ownership of his music's means of production with a self-sustaining record label based in a brownstone near Flatbush Avenue. And he has spent most of his career on the alternative fringe of jazz culture, though his audience at CIM included a couple of industry veterans like Jeff Levenson, who has a working affiliation with the Blue Note, one of New York's most obvious mainstream jazz institutions.

"Brooklyn is essentially an incubator, where a lot of things get messed with and hybridized," Mr. Levenson said later, speaking as an almost 30-year resident of the borough. "I think an audience approaches that experience differently than the audience that comes to the Blue Note. There's a different agenda, a different motivation. We're talking works in progress, which moderates the expectation levels."

A good many Brooklyn musicians would agree with that characterization, which casts the borough's jazz scene almost in the role of a loose-and-limber Triple-A baseball team. (Higher in the pecking order than the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones, anyway.) But the idea probably wouldn't sit well with Mr. Abdullah, who sees community-based creative action as a goal in itself.

Nor for different reasons would it agree with the percussionist Matt Moran, who leads Slavic Soul Party, an improviser-stocked Balkan brass band that performs on Tuesdays at Barbès, after Ms. Scheinman. "Maybe this started out as a place where people workshop things," Mr. Moran said outside the club recently, between sets. "But it's on the radar now, and you need to step up and present your work in the best possible light."

"It has really arrived as a scene," he continued, gathering steam. "People are saying, 'I'm not going to step into the shininess of Manhattan, I'm going to do it in my own earthy way.' And rather than struggling in obscurity, they're finding that now it's a celebrated thing."

Mightier Than the Board - co-op

Published: May 28, 2006

IN New York City, letters of recommendation are part of the hazing ritual known as a board package, whereby a buyer must convince a co-op board that he or she would make a worthy neighbor. But in this era of cellphones and instant messaging, formal letters of recommendation solicited from friends and associates can seem as quaint as cucumber sandwiches, with buyers and writers alike tempted to treat them as crustless formalities.


Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Angel Franco/The New York Times

When Susan Ruttner read, “Both applicants are of the highest moral turpitude,” she thought it was a joke.

"It's not really a blowoff," said Joan Sacks, an associate broker at Stribling who sits on the board of her white-glove building at 45 Sutton Place South. "Many people believe falsely the letters will never be considered, because who would ask for one from someone who would give a bad one. But the quality of the letters will speak to the kinds of people the applicant knows, their ability to write well, and most importantly, the ability to provide a sense at a personal level what the applicant and his family are like."

Boards typically require three to six letters from friends, employers and professional colleagues. And depending on the building and the candidate, the letter-writing ritual can make the difference between acceptance and rejection. But, brokers lament, letters of recommendation continue to be chronically misunderstood, occasionally faked and frequently bungled — sometimes to comic effect.

Consider the reference submitted by a lawyer on behalf of a couple buying a one-bedroom pied-à-terre a few years ago. "Both applicants are of the highest moral turpitude," he wrote.

"I read it three times to myself, saying 'This has got to be a joke,' " said Susan Ruttner, a senior vice president of Halstead Property who, as the seller's agent, reviewed the board package before it was submitted. The writer was asked for a revision.

"I get a new one faxed to me a month later that says: 'I purchased a dictionary for my secretary. Sorry for the previous effort,' " Ms. Ruttner said. "He changed it to 'of the highest moral character.' "

The inadvertently maligned buyers got the apartment.

Sometimes, the letters really are intended as jokes — ones that are not always recognized until it is nearly too late. When an actor asked a comedian friend for a reference, he said that the actor "sleeps all day, and he's really very quiet, even at night when he practices the piano at 3 in the morning, and he's actually very talented," said Michele Kleier, the chairwoman of Gumley Haft Kleier. The letter slipped by the buyer's broker and would have gone into the board package if Ms. Kleier, the seller's broker, hadn't noticed something amiss. "About four days later, the real letter arrived," Ms. Kleier said.

Less amusing, she said, was a reference on behalf of a couple buying one of her listed apartments. "It was very long and started out beautifully," she recalled, "and toward the end there was a paragraph about how wonderful these people were in the face of adversity — that after three bankruptcies, they landed on their feet each time and only did better, and now their lives had turned around. And I said, 'Oh my God, who wants to have someone in their building who has had three bankruptcies?' "

It is also unwise to bring up a candidate's penchant for entertaining or for cooking pungent-smelling foods. JoAnne Kennedy, the chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy, said that other instances of innocent sabotage involve statements like "they train pit bulls and have five grandchildren that they like to take care of."

She also bemoaned references to "things that are absolutely off the wall — like gun collections."

"I mean, gun collecting is an honorable pastime in some parts of the world," she said. "But New Yorkers don't collect guns; they collect art."

Obvious miscues like these rarely make it to the board. They wind up in rewrite or in a dead-letter file after the brokers have vetted them. But plenty of people submit brief, pro forma letters that brokers can do little about if the writer is unwilling to try again.

These terse cookie-cutter letters bespeak a maladroit candidate who doesn't play well with others, particularly when they are from social references.

"The last thing you want in a package is four letters, each of which is two-sentence paragraphs," said Frederick Peters, president of Warburg Realty, who was the president of his board on Central Park West for five years. "That makes a really bad impression. When I was a board president, what I thought was that people couldn't really be bothered. And I think that says something about how they feel about the applicant."


Richard Perry/The New York Times

Anthony vanEyck Miller defended the common practice of distributing sample letters, to give prospective references an idea of what’s expected.

The tone and content of the ideal letter vary according to the building. An astute broker can tell you whether a chatty, sophisticated or businesslike approach will work best.

But all letters should describe through specific examples "people who have a solid base in society in terms of relationships," said Judith H. Saunders, a senior vice president of Halstead. "They show that you can get along with people, accommodate yourself to other people's needs, and you're not going to make unreasonable demands."

A reference from a fellow volunteer, for example, should say "not just that you sit on the board, but that you worked tirelessly to raise money for X and painted the playground," said Laura Matiz, an executive vice president of Bellmarc Realty.

While stock phrases like "financially prudent," "quietly reliable" and "excellent reputation" have their uses, they are no substitute for personal and powerful storytelling. "I've had other board members tell me they've been moved to tears on more than one occasion by beautiful letters of a beautiful friendship," said Maury Solomon, an associate broker at Halstead and former board member at an Upper West Side building.

Ms. Sacks recalled the stirring recommendation she recently read "from a woman who met her next-door neighbors"— the buyers — "because of 9/11. She lived alone and was absolutely terrified to come out of her apartment. Her next-door neighbors made it a point to ring her doorbell and make sure she was all right and befriended her and really helped her get through that kind of trauma."

While some board members are motivated mostly by curiosity, satisfying it can be tantamount to a red carpet at the board interview, the final and traditionally most feared part of the application process.

"We're all very nosy people," Ms. Kennedy said. "Look at all the reality shows on television. And when you know another person's story, you then learn how to connect with them."

Of course, in New York, who is writing can be as important as what they say.

"Sometimes a building wants to know who the letters are from before the application review," said Margaret Furniss, a vice president of Stribling, referring to certain buildings in the white-glove category, including those that expect handwritten letters on engraved stationery. "They want to make sure the buyers know people who live in the same sort of co-ops. And they want a snapshot profile of who the person is. What kind of world do they live in?"

At other times, it's the seller who may be gun-shy. Last year, Ms. Matiz helped sell a $2.5 million apartment on Park Avenue after the board had already turned down one pair of financially qualified buyers, raising suspicions of a "social" turndown. "The seller's agent would not look at our financials until they knew who the letter writers were," Ms. Matiz said. "I gave them very wealthy C.E.O.'s who all lived on Park Avenue."

In a slightly different wrinkle, a seller's broker weighing competing bids may ask for the names of the letter writers to help identify the offer most likely to pass the board.

The "right" names depend on the personality of the building. "Different buildings are looking for different things," said Mr. Peters, Warburg's president. "There are some buildings which are quite clubby, and they want letters from people they know, so you have to figure out who's on the board, what they do, and figure out if you know someone who knows them."

(On the other hand, brokers warn, don't ask someone who barely knows you, even a famous someone, to write a recommendation, and think carefully before including one of your potential neighbors. "You don't know whether they are really well liked or not," said Mr. Solomon of Halstead.)

So can reference letters really torpedo an application?

Occasionally, yes.

"We had at least one experience on my board that I can recall in which the letters hinted to us at stuff that we then did more research to find out, which led us to conclude that the candidate was not right for us," Mr. Peters said, referring to his Central Park West board.

Much more commonly, great letters can push a buyer with so-so financials across the finish line.

"If it's a business recommendation and that letter is saying John Jones is a highly competent employee and his future with our company is excellent, that, of course, becomes very significant in weighing that applicant," said Ms. Sacks of Stribling.

Similarly, Ms. Furniss, her colleague at Stribling, said: "If you have an entry-level couple and their finances are sort of on the edge, if their letters all say they're honest and straightforward and always meet their obligations personally and financially, that can tip it right over into their favor. A lot of boards are interested in having smart young people on their way up in the building and will give a leg up to people like that."

What if you are quiet, honest and reasonably solvent but keep to yourself? This is not the moment to abandon type and forge a set of letters, at least not in the traditional sense.

Some boards actually check references, especially on the Upper East Side. "Your 10 percent deposit can be lost that quickly," Mr. Solomon said.

But there are legitimized types of fakery — for example, when references say they will sign whatever you write (or when a script-doctoring broker offers to "fill out" an awkward or anemic letter). While this is not cause for disqualification, it can backfire by producing a subpar letter.

"You always get better references from someone else than one you write yourself," said Ms. Saunders of Halstead. "People writing their own letters and asking a friend to sign it are less likely to have personal detail quality."

Plagiarism is another problem and often can be traced to the sample letters brokers hand out. "Then, the danger is that everybody uses it, and you get four letters back, and all of them have the same middle paragraph," Mr. Peters said.

Anthony vanEyck Miller, a vice president of Bellmarc, defended the widespread practice of distributing examples. "In this age of e-mails, many college-educated people do not know how to write well," he said, "and they don't know how to construct a letter. With a sample, they get the idea."

Sometimes, a board confronting a sheaf of clonish or skeletal letters will ask for a new and improved set. But if a candidate's finances are excellent, money will usually speak louder than words.

"At the end of the day, it's the finances of the buyer that count," said Mr. Miller, a veteran of two boards. "The reference letters simply legitimize whatever conclusions the board might have already reached by view of the financial statements."

Regardless of the outcome, a board package containing detailed and moving references may carry sentimental value.

"It's like a little time capsule," said Meg Siegel, a senior vice president of Sotheby's International Realty and the president of her SoHo board for five years. "A friend or associate who writes a wonderful letter for you — it's a wonderful marking of time, of where you are at this point in your life. It's kind of like a complete packet that really sums up who this person really is. And it's pretty accurate."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In a Tiny Queens Apartment, 70 Cats Gone, and 28 to Go

In a Tiny Queens Apartment, 70 Cats Gone, and 28 to Go

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

The cats scurry under the bed when visitors arrive. Most of them are the products of inbreeding and have similar markings.

Published: May 1, 2006

"Any evil intention against my cats and me, will come back to you, three times three."


Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Melanie Neer will be allowed to keep 2 of her 30 cats in her studio apartment in Queens. She once had 100.

Thus spoke the witch of Elmhurst last week, casting a protective spell over her coven of cats — 30 strong, but shrinking by the day — living in the rent-controlled studio apartment she shares with her mother on 80th Street in Queens.

The witch happens to be Melanie Neer, 50, a student of the principles of Wicca and Harry Potter.

The evil intention happens to be an eviction order from her landlord, who has long complained about the intense cat odor coming from the apartment.

Although it is against Wiccan principles to put a harmful spell upon others, Ms. Neer said as she took out a special candle used for "super-duper protection spells," one may cast a boomerang spell on a harmful person to so that the harm comes back to him.

But while she has managed to stave off eviction thus far, the witchcraft is not working wonders on the cat front.

Thirty cats in a cramped apartment may seem like a lot, but five years ago, the Neers had 100 in there and CNN showed up to cover the story. The publicity led people and rescue groups to adopt dozens of the cats. But the Neers are obligated by an agreement with their landlord to trim the herd to two.

Workers arrive daily now from Animal Care and Control of New York City to remove another cat or two. If the collected cats are not adopted, they are killed.

The floors were scrubbed down to bare wood and the wooden furniture clawed into scratching posts. A heavy cat smell filled the small space, despite two window fans on full blast.

Melanie sat with her mother, Barbaralee Neer, 73, a retired bank receptionist who has esophageal cancer and needs constant attention. Since no home health attendant is willing to work in the house, Melanie fills that role.

Melanie lit a cigarette and recalled that they had just nine cats in 1992. Some were not spayed or neutered, and things soon got out of control.

"That's her, she started the mess," she said, pointing to Whoopee, a 13-year-old cat who strolled into the room. Her litter spawned most of the cats, Melanie explained.

Barbaralee sat in her overcoat and a pair of thick boots and watched as Melanie pulled out papers showing that the landlord, Antonio Feggoudakis, was seeking her eviction. Michael S. Schnitzer, Mr. Feggoudakis's lawyer, said last night that eviction was a last-resort effort to "cure a health and safety problem, keep the integrity of the building and look out for the other tenants," since the Neers broke a 2001 agreement to keep only two cats.

When the Neers moved in 45 years ago, they paid $86 a month. Now they pay $521, they said. Melanie receives disability and Barbara lives on her pension and Social Security checks. The cat costs sap it all and they live hand to mouth, they said.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hu Wants You

As China's president tours America, the government in Beijing is on a campaign to get tourists beyond the country's big cities -- and into its vast interior.
By STAN SESSER AND MEI FONG
April 22, 2006; Page P1

GUIZHOU PROVINCE, China -- Chen Hua Jin, a resident of the beautiful village of Langde, slung onto the side of a mountain above a fast-flowing river, has just cooked her visitors a hot-pot lunch of local pork, tofu and greens. They're delighted, and she's happier still, having just earned $10 in a place where the average family income is $250 a year.

With its breathtaking limestone mountains and terraced rice fields, Guizhou is one of the poorest provinces in China. Now, tourism is coming to the rescue. As the 43-year-old Ms. Chen cooks, the women of this Miao tribal village, wearing colorful native costumes, perform a dance for a busload of tourists from Hong Kong, which is a half-day trip away, divided between a plane and car. Other women sell textiles and jewelry from tables set up along the steep stone walkways.

SEEING THE REST OF CHINA
[china]
Two-day, three-day and five-day options for business travelers who are interested in a side trip after their work is done.

China is beset with rural poverty: The growing income gap between the rich of the coastal cities and the rural poor is a major issue for the Communist Party. In response, the government is pouring $10 billion into the tourism infrastructure of dozens of scenic but impoverished areas -- from historic sites along the old Silk Road, to mountains considered holy by Taoists and Buddhists, to national parks. For travelers, this means an alternative to China's teeming metropolises -- and a break from the crush of tour buses that plague a growing number of sites. But in many of these places, there are still obstacles that may intimidate some tourists, from language barriers to a lack of indoor plumbing -- even the occasional restaurant where the specialty is dog. While Western-brand hotels are expanding into the interior, others are aging state-owned institutions with suspicious-looking stains on the carpet and extremely hard mattresses.

Guizhou Province, the size of Minnesota and home to 39 million people, serves as a prime example of what is now available. Cut off from its neighbors by its towering mountains, the province had long been isolated. But now visitors can fly nonstop to its capital, Guiyang, from Shanghai, Beijing and many other Chinese cities, disembarking at a gleaming modern airport with super-efficient baggage retrieval and check-in. From Guiyang, the gateway city of Kaili, where tourists who visit the ethnic minority villages can stay in relative comfort, used to be a bumpy seven-hour drive on a winding country road. Now it's a 2½-hour ride on a divided four-lane expressway. New hotels in both cities offer comfortable accommodations with free, high-speed Internet access, at the bargain prices of $85 a night in Guiyang and $50 in Kaili.

With its crystal-clear rivers and unpolluted air, the valley presents a side of China that visitors to the eastern and northern parts of the country might have despaired of ever seeing. During four days in the area, we never saw another Westerner; only 270,000 foreigners visited Guizhou Province last year, including the businessmen who stayed only in Guiyang.

[china]
Scenes from Guizhou: A child from the Miao village of Qinman

Very few of Guizhou's residents speak English, even in Guiyang's two five-star hotels, imposing huge hurdles for anyone who wants to tour the province without first hiring a guide, car and driver. And of Guizhou's 2,000 tour guides, only about 35 are English speakers; they'd quickly be overwhelmed if Americans and Europeans started arriving en masse.

Although Guizhou's 49 ethnic-minority groups, each with a distinctive style of dress and many with distinctive cuisines, represent an enticing tourist attraction, China didn't fully open the province to foreigners until 1997.

Working with the provincial and local governments, the United Nations World Tourism Organization formulated a master plan to bring tourists to seven ethnic-minority villages of Guizhou's Bala River Valley as a demonstration project in how to alleviate rural poverty. "Tourism in Guizhou is the only sector that can uplift the quality of life," says Xu Jing, the tourism organization's regional representative for Asia and the Pacific. "They tried other sectors like minerals and forestry, but it cannot be sustainable from a long-term perspective. Instead of cutting the trees, tourists can look at the trees."

The new project hasn't resolved all the problems of traveling in Guizhou. Although Guiyang's airport has been upgraded to international status, no airline has yet started international flights, so travelers in Southeast Asia, which is relatively close, can't add Guizhou to their itineraries as a short hop.

Elsewhere, similar projects are under way. In the center of the country, Jiuzhaigou is a national park with stunning glacial lakes, waterfalls and a panda reserve. This year, airlines will be adding six flights from Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities. That has prompted local authorities to launch a $36 million expansion of the nearby Jiuhuang airport.

Non-Chinese speakers may have a slightly easier time in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, a semi-autonomous region of China, and Buddhism's heartland. In recent years, Tibet been in the news for its political woes. But with better rail, road and air routes in the works, its thousand-year-old monasteries are about to become more prominent. The world's highest railway, linking Beijing to Tibet, was completed in October. Starting at the end of this year, it will be possible for the first time to make the trip by rail, in 48 hours.

In the south, the central government is spending $324 million over five years to turn the little-known town of Zhaoqing into a showpiece that includes eco-tourism hikes and visits to Ming-era villages. One promised tour stop: Bagua Village, a pentagram-shaped hamlet built along feng-shui principles and populated with traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. Overall, the planned $10 billion investment in tourism infrastructure over the next five years is almost half the total figure of the previous two decades, according to the China National Tourism Administration.

The government is looking to do in tourism what it did in manufacturing two decades ago. Its decision to create "special economic zones" in the 1980s to boost foreign investment -- at a time when the economy was still largely state-controlled -- transformed peaceful rice farms into powerhouses that now make a large chunk of the world's sneakers, DVD players and flat-panel screens. But the development has been uneven, enriching mostly coastal areas and helping to trigger unrest in lesser-developed parts of the country. In 2004, the last year for which data are available, there were about 74,000 social demonstrations in China, compared with just 10,000 such incidents a decade earlier.

Another motivation for the government: China's economic czars are anxious to boost spending on services -- including tourism -- as the country tries to transition from being an export-led economy, which has it made vulnerable to a growing protectionist backlash from its trading partners. Some critics say protectionism is also at work in its travel industry. Foreign travel agencies chafe at China's slow pace in allowing outside competition, as is required by its membership in the World Trade Organization.

In the same way that China has taken manufacturing business away from higher-wage countries in Asia, its new push has the potential to redraw the region's tourism map. If it can develop a dozen new destinations, it could attract travelers who might otherwise take their vacations in other countries in the region, like Thailand or Japan.

[china]
Wang Ba

Already, China's tourism boom has meant growth opportunities for everyone from hotel companies to makers of camping equipment. French chain Accor, which has 34 hotels in China, is opening 30 more by the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Other hotel chains expanding in China include Sheraton, InterContinental and Super 8. For now, many of these companies are expanding in China's big cities and the surrounding areas. They face competition from local companies such as Shanghai-based Jinjiang Group, China's largest hotel operator, which has ambitious plans inside and outside China.

The investment in remote spots of China could give it a leg up on some nearby countries where poor planning and a flood of visitors have already stripped tourist attractions of much of their charm. In Guizhou, the ethnic-minority villages are largely pristine, a stark contrast with Thailand, where such villages have been often ravaged by the impact of uncontrolled tourism. The predominant minority in Guizhou, the Miao -- known outside of China as Hmong -- live in eye-pleasing wooden houses with roofs of black slate tiles. They're more likely to wear traditional dress than jeans and T-shirts. Although a visitor's interpreter has to translate, people will readily invite a foreigner into their house to talk. And the local cuisine is distinctive and delicious, emphasizing local fish cooked in sauces with a sour tang from pickled vegetables.

In Wang Ba, a Gejia-minority village of 1,200 people two hours north of Kaili, tourists pay for dance performances, buy handicrafts and eat in people's homes. A year ago, the villagers hit the jackpot when 34 members of the Harvard Alumni Association arrived, paying $5 each for lunch and $180 for a performance.

Pan Cheng Ya, Nanhua's mayor, said the village earned $60,000 last year from dance performances alone, with a thousand foreigners visiting. That has created new wealth locally. Some families have cellphones and televisions, and kids have new toys, he says. Still, tourism is proving far from a panacea. Almost all the young people go off to wealthy coastal cities like Guangzhou looking for jobs. Mr. Pan himself has to supplement his salary of $15 a month by working on construction projects. And now he has to deal with a new problem: the suspicion of the villagers that he and other local officials are getting rich from the tourist boom. "Money has become a sensitive issue," he says. "They think we get all the benefits. Whatever we tell them, they don't believe us."

--Cui Rong and Candace Jackson contributed to this article

[chinamap]

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Suitable Attire ?

Suit Goes in Washer, Dryer,
But Traditionalists Recoil:
'This is the Antichrist'
By CECILIE ROHWEDDER
April 20, 2006; WSJ Page B1

LONDON --Tim Blackshaw still winces about the night two years ago that a party guest spilled a glass of Chateau Lafitte 1975 down the back of his Christian Dior jacket, the fine red wine ruining the expensive light-gray suit.

Yet, as the 30-year-old chef browsed the racks at a Marks & Spencer PLC store here recently, that episode wasn't enough to persuade him to bite on the retailer's heralded new product: the first suit that can be washed, machine dried and worn without ironing.

"I am not sure it would come out looking okay," he says, even though it looks like the other suits hanging on a rack, with its brightly colored silk lining.

And therein lies the problem plaguing the wool/polyester/lycra suit like a stubborn wrinkle. The suit maker, Bagir Ltd. and its retailers, M&S in Britain and J.C. Penney Co. in America, are fighting powerful forces of anthropology and sociology with mere chemistry and marketing. Men, long accustomed to armoring themselves in creased-and-pressed formality as a sign of their status and aspirations, would have to risk not looking just so in professional situations.

"Suits aren't meant to be convenient," says Anne Hollander, a fashion historian in New York and author of a book about suits. "If you wear a suit, you are joining the company of respectable people."

She says men in general feel more insecure about clothes than women. "What men fear the most is something that makes them look like a fool," she says.

Thomas Horton, the 44-year-old chief financial officer of American Airlines's parent AMR Corp. expresses the befuddlement of many men when asked about the idea of a wash-and-dry suit.

"That would be hard for me to get my head around," says Mr. Horton, who like his boss, AMR Chief Executive Gerard Arpey, has his suits custom-made by Chris Cobb in Dallas. "It's a foreign concept. It's like starching your jeans. I wouldn't do that either."

But the retailers and the suit maker aren't aiming quite that high up the executive ladder. Instead, they are banking on the mix of convenience and price (about $225 in the United Kingdom and $177.99 in the U.S.) to lure in a certain type of buyer.

"There are a lot of very busy blokes about who wear a suit for work, who go through a lot of wear and tear and who'll want this because of convenience," says Stuart Rose, chief executive of M&S, the biggest seller of suits in Britain. Tim Danser, a buyer for tailored clothing for men at Penney, says, "The customer is time-compressed and, in middle America, also pocket-book compressed."

Kenny Cook, a 37-year-old desk clerk for Royal Mail in London, plans to buy one of the new suits for a friend's wedding later this month. Mr. Cook says he eats lunch at his desk and often drops a piece of his sandwich on his suits. "I can't be bothered to go to the dry cleaners," says Mr. Cook. "But I've mastered a washing machine."

The quest for convenience suited with style has been going on for decades. The first "wash-and-wear suits" appeared in the early 1950s, when polyester was invented, but they were more often the butt of jokes to indicate the wearer's humble circumstances. They have quietly occupied a small market niche.

In the summer of 2002, Bagir, which is based in Israel, decided to pursue the concept as a way to distinguish itself from garment makers in low-wage countries. At the time, suit makers like Bagir were also suffering because the trend toward casual wear was at its peak. One reason men were rejecting suits, market research showed, was that they thought of them as inconvenient. It came up with a washable suit that could be drip-dried. That suit, which needs to be ironed, is now M&S's biggest seller and has sold 750,000 since 2004. Penney also sells a version.

Despite the success, Bagir executives wanted to go further and make a suit that could go in the dryer. But heat from the dryer created a problem. In long trials, it would render the front of the suit either wrinkled or as stiff as cardboard. In tests, Bagir washed and dried the suits 30 times and checked after every five cycles to see that the garment's shape and color could withstand water and heat. Finding the right formula took over two years and $10 million.

The new dryer-friendly version is made of 45% wool, 52% polyester and 3% lycra. The man-made fibers, says Offer Gilboa, chief executive of Bagir, prevent the wool from going back to its origins "as a wet lamb." The wool content prevents the plastic feel of earlier, all-polyester suits. Many men trying on the new suit in London say it isn't shiny, scratchy or hot and looks like the other middle-priced suits at the store.

At M&S, the "Wash and Tumble Dry Suit" went on sale a few weeks ago and comes in gray, black, navy and classic British chalk stripe, as well as double- or single-breasted. It costs £129 (about $230), less than most department-store brands. At Penney, the pants and the single-breasted, two-button jackets can be purchased separately. Neither Penney nor M&S would say how many of the suits they have sold, but both stores said the suit was selling well.

Upscale U.S. retailers Barney's New York, a unit of Jones Apparel Group Inc., and Brooks Brothers, a unit of Retail Brand Alliance Inc., declined to say whether they would ever consider selling a wash-and-dry suit. At Nordstrom Inc., spokesman Deniz Anders says, "It is a great idea though it needs more development."

In at least one corner of the fashion world, the suit is drawing praise.

"For some guys, polyester carries a stigma but it shouldn't because of its high wool content, which makes the suit hang very well," says Jim Moore, creative director of men's magazine GQ in New York. "This is a real business suit." He notes that polyester is losing its negative image, as an increasing number of fashion designers, including heavyweights such as Giorgio Armani, use synthetic fibers in men's suits. "I don't think it's a suit that's for every single man out there," he adds, "but it has a sensible price and would be great as a starter suit, or for a guy who is traveling a lot."

But, in Britain, the new suit may face a particularly tough time, even though it costs £9.99 (about $17.80) to dry-clean a suit in central London -- about twice as much as on Manhattan's Upper East Side. In Britain, where casual Fridays never caught on, suits are still de rigueur for business.

"It's about the image you want to project," says Steve Hughes, a 39-year-old information technology consultant who says he dreads wearing the wrong suit to work. "What you wear is a reflection on you as a professional."

Catherine Hayward, fashion director of British men's magazine Esquire, says she didn't see a great need to wash suits to begin with. "It's not like men are going to the meat market where they get covered in blood, or doing gardening in them," she says.

For Marc Psarolis, sales director for upscale British clothes maker Daks, the reaction is much more visceral.

"This is the Antichrist of what we believe in," he sniffs.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

日本男人年過40的中年恐慌

最近日本報紙層出不窮的40歲男子犯案事件,像是千葉法務局職 員殺妻、眾議院議員在六本木強行猥褻女生被當成現行犯逮捕、46歲和44歲的兄弟聯手殺害包括父母在內的家庭成員5人、NTT西日本員工以製偽鈔嫌疑被逮 捕、日本航海連盟的教練同時也指導北京奧運選手卻因向少女買春而被逮捕,連著名的從事耐震度偽造的姊齒秀次“ 前”建築師都是在40歲以上的年紀犯下離譜案件的男性之一。

  男性過了40歲,已經是人生的折返點,也很多男性在此時已功成名就,上述也有不少人是在不錯的公司擁有不錯的職位或頭銜,讓人丈二金鋼摸不著腦袋為何他們會去犯下這些自毀前程的事,原因就在於被日本稱為「Midlife Crisis」的中年恐慌。

   「Midlife Crisis」中年恐慌是指人在人生的一半,也就是過了40歲的時候,開始慢慢感覺到精神和肉體上的衰老,但自己的心中卻仍希望自己還是很年輕,但心理與 現實之間的落差沒能成功消除,於是自己開始慌亂起來,不知道該怎麼辦,甚至有些人會在這途中迷失了自我。有些人會開始想自己的人生怎麼過得這麼地無趣,然 後煩惱自己是否該就這樣繼續無趣的人生?因而對自己的人生感到焦燥,每天開始憂鬱了起來。但這樣的反應也還是因人而異,有些人因此變得重度憂鬱而犯下一些 自己一生都沒想過的罪行,但也有一些人想開了,拋棄目前現有的一切,重新展開與過去完全不一樣的人生。

  其實,這樣的中年恐慌並不是只 存在於日本,美國就有研究指出,每4個美國人就有1個會有這樣的中年恐慌,而這樣的中年恐慌也不是只會發生在男性身上, 女性會從面容、白髮等外觀感覺到自己的衰老,然後拼命求助於美容、整形之類,來降低自己心理上及外貌上的差距,但在男性身上較常見到容易迷失自己做出超出 常軌的事,特別是在一些老實了半輩子的、將面臨退休的或是無法圓滿處理自己的人際關係的男性身上。

  而日本男性為什麼最近冒出了這麼多 因為中年恐慌而犯下重大罪行的人呢?帝塚山學院大學的小田晉教授表示,由於日本這個世代的人是被獲勝就能得到所有的 社會教育所教出來的,所以成功欲望強,但同時也相對地以「萬一被發現就慘了」的理性來抑制自己本身的欲望,這種成果論的價值觀使得他們在過了40歲後突然 就因為承受不了長久以來的精神分裂而爆發。

  而臨床心理師宮城麻里子表示,到了40幾歲就連工作也會變得具有批判性的分歧點。很多人做 著自己不喜歡的工作到了40幾歲,每天還得為了不喜歡的工作 早出晚歸,過著跟家裡的人每天說不到幾句話的生活,甚至造成夫妻失和,然後又在「再撐一下就過去了」的心理下,強迫自己繼續工作下去,而在長期的身心壓力 下漸漸迷失了自我。

  再加上日本人個性較為壓抑,所以很多人平時就不懂得舒解壓力或是換個方式想,而且日本的公司最近紛紛從以往的年功 序列制改成仿效外資走向的成果主義 制,使得不少人在40幾歲原本以為自己努力了半輩子有功成名就的希望,卻在最後被公司調離權力核心,想到自己為了追求地位和收入不斷地上升,甚至幫公司做 出一些齷齪的事情,卻在最後被棄之不顧,頓時覺得自己的人生失去了希望。尤其是年幼在貧困的環境生長的人,更容易在無意識中產生強烈地自卑感,希望讓人對 自己刮目相看的心理而奮力地工作後,就容易走向極端。

  其實,中年恐慌並不是太過可怕的精神疾病,而且也並非是他人的事,我們每一個人到中年時都有可能發生這樣的情形,為了預防自己產生中年恐慌,平時就要注意解放壓力,並多找家人聊聊或許能讓危機變成轉機也說不一定呢!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dump Trash, Add Scavengers, Mix and Get a Big Mess

Zhu Feixiang, 46, leads a band of trash pickers from Anhui Province. "We don't steal," he said. "We don't rob. We only make a living." (Ryan Pyle for The New York Times)

By HOWARD W. FRENCH
Published: April 3, 2006

SHANGHAI, March 28 — Song Tiping, a peasant from rural Jiangsu Province, and Bernie Kearsley-pratt, an Australian executive, would not at first glance seem to have much in common, and they do not, except for one thing: both were drawn here by the unlikely financial promise of garbage, towering mountains of refuse that attest to this city's status as a raging boomtown. And now they spend their days in a cat-and-mouse game, Mr. Song joining throngs of poor Chinese scavenging in the trash and Mr. Kearsley-pratt, who manages Shanghai's largest municipal dump, trying to keep them out.

Multimedia
Video: Shanghai Journal: The Dump

The Australian, who works for a French company that is helping manage this city's garbage, says his difficult job is made all the harder — indeed on some days he himself would say impossible — by the cruel fact that even in the heartland of a booming China, peasants can make far more money collecting plastic trash bags, tin cans and the rubber soles of shoes than they can as farmers or ordinary day laborers.

Most days Mr. Song, who came to Shanghai seeking a way to pay the hefty tuition fees for his eldest daughter, who had been admitted to one of the country's best high schools, spends several hours dodging monstrous earthmoving equipment in the landfill, one of the largest in Asia, to pick trash.

Were it not for dangers of the job, like being crushed by a bulldozer, inhaling noxious gases while wading knee-deep in fetid refuse or being beaten by warring gangs of scrap pickers for the mere prize of an unbroken bottle, it might even be considered a good job.

"We worked really hard as laborers before, doing 12- to-15-hour days for a mere few hundred yuan," about $35, Mr. Song said. "You have to work even if you are sick or tired. Here we are working for ourselves, and there is a lot more freedom — four to five hours a day, plus we can earn a lot more."

Each morning, on average, 6,300 tons of garbage arrives by barge from the central city. Mr. Kearsley-pratt's company, Onyx, won an international bidding competition in 2003 to replace an old municipal landfill next door, which had observed almost no environmental precautions, with a state-of-the-art dump — a fenced-in area slightly larger than New York's Central Park. To do so, Onyx has invested millions of dollars in heavy equipment, environmental measures and training.

The plan was for a plant that would safeguard the water table and produce enough natural gas to power a small city — in short, the cleanest, safest, most modern landfill imaginable — until the scavengers showed up. They came in ones and twos, like Mr. Song and his wife, and in roving gangs, organized according to their place of origin in the poor and far-flung Chinese countryside. Now, according to all sides in what appears to be a mounting dispute, what they have is one fine mess.

"Everyone has a big challenge when they come to China," Mr. Kearsley-pratt said. He warmed to his subject slowly, talking about how no living-room couch, no matter how abused, would ever make it from a Shanghai curbside to his dump, because someone needier than the owner would quickly haul it away.

Finally, he got to the meat of the problem: the scavengers who descend each day upon his dump like freebooters on a diamond mine. "As soon as you tip the truck there will be 40 or 50 people running all about the machines — quite big machines," he said. "I don't have the statistics, but quite a few people have been crushed like this."

Under the circumstances, tempers sometimes flare. With darkness approaching, as crews of Mr. Kearsley-pratt's workers in hard hats and orange jumpsuits rushed to lay enormous sheets of blue tarpaulins over a flat field of freshly laid garbage to discourage the pickers from coming onto the grounds at night, a female scavenger in her 50's approached a group of foreigners taking pictures of the scene.

"We are just trying to make a livelihood, to eat," she shouted. "Unless you have come to help us survive, we don't want your attention."

All about, as Mr. Kearsley-pratt looked on helplessly, scavengers were loading their day's haul onto pushcarts, onto rickety wagons hitched to the back of motorcycles to be sorted out offsite and sold to buyers who specialize in different kinds of refuse, whether rubber, plastic, aluminum or tin.

"Last year my daughter was admitted to high school and we have to pay 10,000 yuan for her registration," Mr. Song said. In addition to that, the equivalent of $1,250, he said, he also has to pay $125 for his second daughter's school. "We don't know where else to get jobs to support our daughters' education," he said, "and if not for this, there is no hope for us."

The landfill's management has thought about sitting down with the scavengers to cut a deal that would allow them to keep picking without endangering themselves or the dump's operations. But the potential bonanza of the trash has proved, like a gold rush, impossible to manage. The dimensions of the problem are on clear display most days, when 120 huge trucks per hour, freshly loaded with garbage from the barges, rumble down the plant's access road with squadrons of trash pickers on motorbikes following in their wake.

The city is vague about its plans for dealing with the trash pickers, saying only that they will be "phased out" eventually. "Right now, we don't have a city regulation on scavenging," said Wu Xiwei, an official of the city sanitation bureau.

Zhu Feixiang, 46, a scavenger who lives on the edge of the dump on a trash-strewn plot with sheep and dogs and more old plastic bags than you've ever seen, doubts the city will stop him or any others. "They can call the police, but it's not against law or regulation to pick garbage," he said. "We don't steal. We don't rob. We only make a living. Besides, recycling garbage benefits the nation."

Mr. Zhu, who leads a band of trash pickers from Anhui Province that other scavengers describe in fearsome terms, stopped raking the garbage blowing around in his yard to contemplate that for a moment. "Plus, we're dirty and we stink, so the police would never take us in," he said.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

When Life Begins at 5: A New Wake-Up Call

From electricity usage to toilet flushing, the numbers show sleep-deprived Americans are getting up even earlier
By JOHN JURGENSEN
March 25, 2006; Page P1

The lights in America are going on an hour earlier.

As people prepare for the annual hour of sleep deprivation that comes next week with the arrival of daylight-saving time, a broader shift in wake-up times is taking place.

By a wide variety of indicators, from electricity usage to water consumption, more U.S. households are starting their days before dawn. In the last six years, PJM Interconnection, which supplies electricity to more than 50 million people in 13 states, saw its largest uptick in usage between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., while in Atlanta, Southern Co.'s peak winter electricity usage shifted to 7 a.m. from 8 a.m. in 2003. Aqua America, a water supplier for 13 states, has seen everything from toilets to washing machines starting up earlier: The company's booster pumps now kick into gear at 5:30 a.m. in Philadelphia instead of 6 a.m., providing 20% additional water pressure to meet higher demand.

Businesses are taking note. CNN and CNBC moved their main morning shows an hour earlier, to 6 a.m., in December. Office-supplies giant Staples has shifted opening hours of some 100 of its stores to 7 a.m. from 8 a.m. after getting the message from regional focus groups and customer surveys. Based on spending patterns of pre-7 a.m. shoppers, Internet boutique Bluefly.com recently began posting all new items and exclusive deals by 6:30.

Of course, for the sleep-deprived, becoming a morning person can be an uphill battle -- 70% of us are not naturally alert and active in the morning, according to the National Sleep Foundation, an educational organization. Videogame designer Frank Rogan used many techniques to train his body to ease into 6 a.m., the only time he can steal for himself. He's experimented with a "dawn simulator" alarm clock that gradually illuminates the bedroom, searched for wake-up tips on the Internet and even forced himself to go to the gym, which he was appalled to find packed at 6 a.m.

"It's like these people are a different species," says Mr. Rogan, who uses his time to work out or enjoy breakfast on the back porch but sometimes can't help logging on and firing off emails before office hours start.

The shift to sunrise comes thanks to everything from heavier rush-hour traffic to BlackBerry overload that has left predawn as the last refuge for many people. In Phoenix, Skydive Arizona has seen a spike in prework parachuting. "These are Type-A personalities -- doctors, lawyers," says jump coordinator Betsy Barnhouse. "Once they face their mortality in the morning, they can just walk through their day."

Others try more sedentary pursuits. In the past year, La Jolla, Calif., psychologist Barbara Rosen says she's started seeing patients at 7 a.m., two hours earlier than her previous first appointments. "I've had requests for 6, but I'm not quite ready to do that," she says.

It's such early risers that helped convince CNN to air its popular morning broadcast earlier. Jonathan Klein, president of CNN, says that in the last 10 years, the number of 25- to 54-year-olds watching TV in the early morning has doubled, a key factor in the decision to move "American Morning" to 6 a.m. from 7 a.m. As for the anchors, who now have to get to work at 3 a.m., "they hate it; they think I'm mean. I'd like to say they cheerfully do it, but hey, it was bad enough that they had to come in at 4 a.m."

[image]

At CNBC, the popular "Squawk Box" now airs at 6 a.m., following a new business show at 4 a.m. "There's no question that the fastest growing day part for news is in the mornings," says David Friend, senior vice president of business news. "It was a no-brainer."

Advertiser money is moving in the same direction. An average of about $52 million is spent on network-television commercials during weekday news shows between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., up from $32 million five years ago, according to research firm TNS Media Intelligence. And though this amount pales in comparison to the hours when "Today" and "Good Morning America" hit the air, the spending increase of 5-7 a.m. outpaced 7-9 a.m. during the same time period, 63% to 46%.

When Tina Sharkey was looking for ways to spend more time with her son, she found it -- at 6:45 a.m. The America Online head of network programming now forces herself out of bed and into the gym at 5:30 so she can have time to read to her 6-year-old before the school bus comes. "We've been attacking Harry Potter from 6:45 to 7:31 in the morning," she says. "The only place I can give is sleep."

For some people, it's simply a matter of trying to beat the traffic. In the last five years, the number of people leaving home between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. increased by 12%, the biggest jump in rush-hour departure times, according to the Census Bureau. That, of course, moves everything else earlier. Quality Care Associates, a child-care company that serves several high-powered New York City suburbs, says requests for nannies to start at 7 a.m. are up 5% over the last year.

Getting up earlier comes fairly easy to Chris Oberbeck -- it's his family that sometimes balks. The private-equity investor in Greenwich, Conn., says that between his 11 p.m. conference calls to India and an ever-buzzing BlackBerry, dawn is "the only shot we've got." Among the new morning activities he's lined up: family birthday parties with waffles instead of cake. But with four boys to drag out of bed, Mr. Oberbeck says rebellion is inevitable: "The most grumbling comes from the one assigned to cook."

For Robert Cobourn, mornings have become a chance to catch up on late-night TV shows he programs on his TiVo. Mr. Cobourn's 10-year-old son Jack, whose afternoons are taken up with soccer practice and nights with homework, recently tried setting his alarm earlier, too, so he could squeeze in videogames before school. Lately, though, Jack's been sleeping right through: "I'm more of a stay-up-late person, anyway."


DAWN PATROL: HOW SIX POWER PLAYERS WAKE UP
Jack Brennan, 51, chairman and CEO, Vanguard Group, Wayne, Pa.
Wake time: 5:15 a.m.
Routine: Wakes up two minutes before the alarm: "I'm on a mental alarm clock." Gets to work at 6 a.m. and makes coffee for himself and any early employees.

Myron E. "Mike" Ullman III,
59, chairman and CEO, J.C. Penney, Turtle Creek, Texas
Wake time: 4:45 a.m.
Routine: Reads four papers online. Leaves his house around 6:45 a.m. and rereads the papers in print during the ride to work.

Hugh Hefner,
79, founder and editor in chief, Playboy magazine, Los Angeles
Wake time: Late morning, no alarm.
Routine: Eats breakfast in bed, then dresses for work: "I just change out of one pair of pajamas and into another."

David Lee Roth,
51, former lead singer of Van Halen, now host of a morning radio show, New York
Wake Time: 3:30 a.m.
Routine: Takes helicopter-flying lessons three days a week. Often does martial arts before arriving at the studio at 5:15 a.m.

Gary C. Kelly,
51, vice chairman and CEO, Southwest Airlines, Plano, Texas
Wake Time: 5 a.m.
Routine: Breakfast consists of vitamins with a glass of sugar-free cranberry juice. Calls his wife from the car at the same intersection every morning.

Michael J. Critelli,
57, chairman and CEO, Pitney Bowes, Darien, Conn.
Wake time: 6:30 a.m.
Routine: Often stops at a doughnut shop on the way to work to read the newspaper. In times of stress, sometimes gets up at 3 or 4 a.m. to work or take a walk.

Write to John Jurgensen at john.jurgensen@wsj.com

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Google's Half Victory

March 21, 2006; Page A14

Google won a partial victory against the Justice Department late Friday night when a federal judge ruled that the company would not be compelled to hand over a sample of users' search queries.

As Judge James Ware noted in his 21-page opinion, search strings like "Jessica Simpson" or "nudity" would not, by themselves, impinge on users' privacy. But a random sampling of searches could well pull up less generic queries. To borrow the judge's example, "[user name] third trimester abortion san jose" might well raise privacy concerns -- not to mention the embarrassment from the publication of the "vanity searches" that Google users have been known to perform, every half hour or so, on themselves.

Judge Ware did grant Justice's request for a random sampling of 50,000 of the sites Google indexes for its searches, so both sides ended up with something. But as the judge also noted, the government remains decidedly vague on how it intends to use the data it was seeking from the major search engines in the underlying case, which concerns the 1998 Child Online Protection Act. Justice says the goal is to "assess the amount of harmful material available to minors" on the Internet. But it doesn't take a genius -- or a subpoena -- to figure out that there's lots of that if you look for it.

The real question is whether criminalizing whole categories of speech on the basis of vaguely worded "community standards" is the least restrictive way of protecting children. Friday's ruling doesn't address that, as the underlying case is being adjudicated in a different court. But it did establish some limits on what the government can demand from private corporations in seeking to defend this law against a First Amendment challenge. Justice's initial request was for every indexed Web address and two months' worth of search queries. By comparison, what the government will now get looks reasonable indeed.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Government vs. Google

Web-Search Battle Offers Fireworks,But Look Deeper for the Real IssueMarch 20, 2006
Google is fencing with the Justice Department about access to users' search requests -- the latest chapter in the federal government's quest to get a star-crossed antiporn law on the books. But the real issue in this battle goes beyond porn or kids -- it's a basic fear about privacy, one bigger than worries about government snooping or corporate data warehouses, and one that will be with us for some time.

A little background: In 1998 a law was passed called the Child Online Protection Act, or COPA, which requires U.S. commercial distributors of material harmful to minors to prevent said minors from accessing their sites. As such, COPA was an attempt to narrow provisions of the Communications Decency Act, which the Supreme Court had shot down as unconstitutional. But it hasn't fared much better. Enforcement of COPA was stayed by injunction, and in 1999 an appeals court struck the law down, saying its reliance on "community standards" to define harmful materials was too broad. In 2002 the Supreme Court returned the law to the appeals court for further review, but kept the injunction intact. In 2003, the appeals court struck down COPA again, finding the law would limit protected speech between adult. In 2004 the Supreme Court upheld the injunction on enforcement and warned that COPA was likely unconstitutional. It also noted that the law was likely to be out of date, given technological advances in filtering software and other methods for protecting children from online smut.

Hot Topic: Google vs. Justice

The Justice Department, in an effort to keep the law alive, is trying to show that filters are flawed and further protections are needed. And it's trying to show that by subpoenaing search-engine providers' data about search queries and Web addresses. Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL handed over such information voluntarily; Google chose to fight. After the government revised its demands to 5,000 search queries and 50,000 randomly chosen Web addresses (from millions of queries and 1 million addresses), a federal judge last week ordered Google to cooperate with the government in supplying the Web addresses but denied the request for the search queries, saying that could cost Google the trust of some users and expressing concern that the queries could be potentially sensitive information.

Between porn, kids, the government and privacy, there's a lot of red meat for various sides in this fight. But there are also a fair number of red herrings.

It's worth arguing about how COPA's "community standards" should be interpreted, or whether the law would bar teens from health-related or artistic sites. But that ignores a basic flaw with COPA: Even if it were perfectly constructed and didn't catch non-porn sites in its net, it would hardly keep kids safe online. Among those porn purveyors not affected: run-of-the-mill commercial porn sites run from Amsterdam or the Azores; dodgy overseas porn merchants who've thrown up sites full of dirty pictures and laced with malware; fly-by-nights creating and abandoning ad-laden porn blogs at speeds that far exceed court filings; and people whose hobby is collecting or making porn and who don't mind sharing. That's a lot of porn sites right there -- too many to rest easy if you've got a 12-year-old using the PC unsupervised. A typical Justice Department release on COPA promises that "the department will continue to work to defend children from the dangerous predators who lurk in the dark shadows of the World Wide Web."

But COPA doesn't venture into those dark shadows -- it polices the comparatively well-lit precincts in which U.S. commercial enterprises dwell.

Google's motion in opposition to the government's request for information makes for entertaining reading: Google's lawyers argue that the government doesn't understand what it's asking for, won't find what it's looking for, and will hurt Google in doing so. Google's lawyers deride one government statement as "so uninformed as to be nonsensical. Search queries run on Google's databases come from such a wide variety of sources that Google's query data, stripped of personally identifying information, will not reveal whether the search query was run by a minor or adult, human or non-human, or on behalf of an individual or business." And in noting that Web addresses aren't reliable indicators of their page's content, Google cheekily offers up the example of porn site whitehouse.com. (You can find the brief linked from this entry on Google's corporate blog.)

At least there's a silver lining for Google in this fight: It gets to cast itself as defending its users against government snoops peeking at their Web searches. That means better Internet buzz for a company that could use some: Google has been bloodied for its self-censored Chinese site, annoyed Wall Street with accidental disclosures of financial targets, and raised eyebrows with its determination to index all the information in the world it can get its digital hands on, whether it's the text of books or the contents of your PC. As I've written before, I'm not against Google's efforts to do that, or its strategies for doing so. But finding Google beavering away at information everywhere you turn strikes many people as creepy, amplifying the uneasy feeling that far too much information about us is out there for someone -- online predators, government Javerts, RIAA bounty hunters, identity thieves -- to find. And that's the real anxiety in this case.

Surveying Google vs. the Government, the thing that worries me most isn't keeping my kid away from porn -- though I do fret about that, as I wrote two weeks ago. It's not the government looking at people's Web searches, though I don't think the government should do that. And it's not knowing Google bots are out there compiling as fast as their little crawlers can crawl, though that can be unsettling.

Rather, it's fearing that all this information -- public and private, trivial and critical -- is getting swept up and made available as more and more information from the analog age migrates to the digital world. And that's happening more quickly than we can identify what ought to be left out -- just ask the CIA, which had to answer questions from the Chicago Tribune about how searches of publicly available databases outed a number of covert operatives.

Rather than protections from porn, we need a basic compact governing what information about ourselves is publicly available, what safeguards there should be on its use, and how we can get information that shouldn't be available quickly and reliably removed. I think such a compact will emerge, and the digital unease of today will be seen as part of the Net's growing pains. But how long do we have to wait? And what mistakes will be made while we do?

What personal information should be available online? How should it be policed? And whose job is that? Drop me a line at realtime@wsj.com -- comments will be posted periodically in Real Time. If you don't want your comments considered for Real Time, please make that clear.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

日韓出現降黃雪怪現象

2006年3月16日 22:30星期四 [中日關係]


以前一些日韓愛情電影與電視劇在拍攝雪景時加一個淡黃filter,十分詩情畫意。現在不用加filter了,因為近數年自然界出現怪現象,日韓不時錄得 天降黃雪。浪漫嗎?不!因為這是從中國大陸飄來的?砂加上有毒粒子(超標30倍!)。中國成為美國之後另一公害輸出大國。

家寶在最近的講話中承認任總理以來沒有處理好環境問題而引以為憾。他保証中國不會先發展經濟,後整治環境。他可是有心無力,地方滿是土皇帝。中國公害問題 日益嚴重,而且禍及鄰邦。俄國、日本及南韓都身受其害。環境問題也成為國際問題。繼酸雨及海上垃圾飄洋過海後,現在出現黃雪。

日本對中國大陸而來的?染反應最大,也為右傾人士增添攻擊中國的話題。近年日本政府的ODA亦不少用於幫助中國種樹木、防沙漠化、設置淨水廠等與環保有關的項目。不過似乎功效有限。

黃雪是中國北部黃砂引起的。一半天災,一半人禍。水源破壞及伐林造成中國北方?砂風暴近數年十分厲害。想不到中國黃砂竟吹到韓國與日本,與雪一起落下便成 為黃雪。雖然?雨及黃雪以前也曾在日韓出現過,不過單是今年首三個月中國已發生四次?砂風暴,令人關注。最近首爾一帶及日本日本海沿岸曾降?雪。?雪積在 地面與?穢雜物混合,變成淺紅色,因此也稱「赤雪」。每年三月至五月是黃砂風暴的高潮,料今年春季黃雨/雪將為日韓帶來煩惱。

為了自己國民的健康,為了睦?,中國環保已急不容緩。盲目追求經濟發展,卻賠上國民健康及國家形象,值得嗎?

中國國務院確立京滬高鐵以德日技術為本「自主開發」

  據日本的傳媒報導,中國大陸的國務院國家發展暨改革委員會表示,北京─上海間的京滬高速鐵路專案建議書,和上海─杭州間的滬杭磁浮高鐵建議書皆已獲得國家批准。

  京滬高鐵經過充分論證、科學比選,各方面就技術方案等重大問題基本上取得了共識,建設時機已經成熟;將採輪軌技術,全長1320公里,其設計最高時速350公里、運行時速300公里。未來會成立「京滬高速鐵路」公司,經營軌道建設和整條高鐵路線的運作。至於車輛則是要從德、日廠商引進技術而自主開發、製造。

  大陸政府預定在2010年整建成7000公里的旅客專用(高鐵)路線,北京─上海間的京滬高速鐵路是其中最重要的一項。(2006/3/14)

拜「熟年離婚」之賜而興起的「熟年再婚」事業

台灣日本綜合研究所   傅婉禎

  去年因為連續劇「熟年離婚」、老後年金分割和整個離婚情況統計讓「熟年離婚」這個問題被日本重視起來了,可能很多人想說這些「熟年離婚」的人好不容易離了婚後應該再也不嚮往婚姻生活,會希望能一個人生活個痛快,但其實並不然。

 「熟年離婚」是指共渡結婚生活10幾20年的老夫老妻長久累積下來的不滿,因一個關鍵點爆發而結束了長時間的婚姻生活,事實上這類的「熟年離婚」也有很多是在婚姻剛開始沒多久就埋下潛在爆發點,但礙於已生下小孩,希望給小孩一個健全的成長環境,所以一直忍耐到小孩已能獨立時才離婚。

  就在這樣「熟年離婚」的背景下,除了因為要離婚而使得一些律師或是離婚諮商公司有了新的生意之外,其實就算是已過了20年自己不滿意的婚姻生活的「熟年離婚」的人想再找個新的、投緣的「老伴」共渡一生的還是不少,這時就誕生了因應這股風潮而起的「熟年再婚」事業。

  第一是婚姻介紹所,像是位於東京赤坂的「M’s Bridal Japan」婚姻介紹所便提供只要將自己的照片和資產等登錄,就可以從資料庫中找出條件相符合的人,並代為介紹的服務。該公司表示,他們最近50歲以上的會員激增,從公司開設5年以來已突破了2500人,其社長感受到很多年長者想要再結婚的熱情,但卻苦於沒有可以為他們介紹的管道,因此有預感這類高齡者對於婚姻介紹所的需求會再繼續延伸成長。

  第二是結婚情報中心,最近也不少結婚情報中心接到很多來自50歲以上甚至是60、70歲的人要來入會的訊息,而這種情報中心就會以企畫一些像是社團活動或是旅行之類,讓會員在短時間內能互相認識,聽說,實際上交往並再婚的人不少。

  除了這兩大結婚相關的單位外,像是結婚介紹所等需要繳交的照片等,也有專門從事幫高齡者拍這類特殊的「相親照」的照相館,畢竟高齡者跟年輕的人需求不太一樣,所以也牽動了高齡相親照的照相市場。

  此外,還有特例就是如同台灣現在盛行娶外籍新娘一般,也有人大肆宣傳「熟年再婚」就是該娶外籍新娘,甚至鼓吹一些已退休的「熟年離婚」男性們不用把外籍新娘娶回日本,而是將退休金直接拿去東南亞買個房子、娶個年輕的外籍新娘,以日本的退休金在東南亞是鐵定是可以過比在日本還要寬裕的生活。

  之所以會有人鼓吹去娶外籍新娘甚至移居到東南亞,他們的主張是如果是「熟年離婚」的男性,在日本國內就算要找想要再婚的對象也只能找與自己年齡相當的,而去參加各種像相親派對的活動,會來參加的女性也已是年華老去的熟女們,要找個年輕一點的女性再婚礙於日本風俗是不容易的。因此想再娶年輕女性的話,東南亞對日本人可以說是個天堂,再加上娶了年輕的老婆在老後若生病需要人照顧也不用擔心老婆年老力衰無法勝任,住在東南亞娶個年輕的老婆也不會有人說閒話,過得可要比日本來得舒適自在。

  姑且不論「熟年再婚」是在日本當地好還是在國外好,的確是有看過自己的父母在「熟年離婚」後又再婚的子女表示,能看到自己的父母重新抓住屬於自己的幸福,也讓他對於「離婚」這兩個字不再抱持著負面的態度。不過,既然選擇了「熟年離婚」,就表示有想要再一次重新抓住屬於自己的幸福的希望,但或許也是因為日本人的民族性較壓抑,所以才會有「熟年離婚」和「熟年再婚」的市場出現,要是換作台灣人,可能是受不了就先離婚再說吧!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

我們的青少年還在吃狼奶



(圖為袁偉時教授, 圖片源自 : 新京報 網上版 www.thebeijingnews.com ·2005年5月8日)


在chinesenewsnet.com找到中山大學教授
袁偉時批評中國歷史教科書的文章. 懇請大家耐心地看畢全文吧 !

《現代化與歷史教科書》( 原載《中國青年報》冰點雜誌)
21世紀的中國人﹐面對的是順之者昌﹑逆之者困的全球化趨勢。與此同時﹐中國的現代化事業進入了關鍵時刻。在這個年代﹐決定公民和國家發展成敗的最重要條件是制度環境﹐但公民的心智狀態對自己乃至國家和社會發展的影響也十分巨大
20世紀70年代末﹐在經歷了反右派﹑大躍進和文化大革命三大災難後﹐人們沉痛地發覺﹐這些災難的根源之一是﹕“我們是吃狼奶長大的。”20多年過去了﹐偶然翻閱一下我們的中學歷史教科書﹐令我大吃一驚的是﹕我們的青少年還在繼續吃狼奶﹗


“以史為鑒”﹑“前事不忘﹐後事之師”﹐這是中國人耳熟能詳的名言。屈辱﹑挫折﹑兵連禍結﹑前仆後繼﹐一部中國近代史蘊藏著多少血淚和經驗教訓﹗我們有責任將歷史真實告訴我們的青少年﹐讓他們永志不忘。這是幫助他們成為現代公民的必由之路。如果天真純潔的孩子吞食的竟是變味乃至有意無意假造的丸丹﹐只能讓偏見伴隨終生﹐甚至因而誤入歧途。

現在是正視我們自己的歷史教科書問題的時候了。現從幾個具體的歷史事件談起。

火燒圓明園是不是無法避免的﹖

火燒圓明園是英法侵略軍犯下的不可饒恕的罪行。事情為什麼會弄到如此地步﹖140多年過去了﹐我們理應冷靜地考察雙方的應對得失﹐吸取教訓﹐讓各國人民更好地共處。這一事件是“第二次鴉片戰爭”的惡果之一。人民教育出版社歷史室編著的《中國歷史》第三冊﹐是被普遍採用的九年義務教育三年制初級中學教科書。它是這樣評述這次戰爭的﹕

一﹑關于戰爭起因。

這部教科書寫道﹕“1856年3月﹐法國天主教神甫馬賴﹐潛入廣西西林地區胡作非為﹐被當地官吏處死。這就是所謂的‘馬神甫事件’。後來﹐法國以此為借口﹐伙同英國發動侵略戰爭。同年10月﹐廣州水師在中國商船‘亞羅號’上﹐緝捕了海盜和水手。英國領事無端干涉﹐硬說‘亞羅號’是英國船要求中國方面釋放被捕的人﹐並向英方賠禮道歉。兩廣總督葉名琛怕事態擴大﹐釋放了被捕的水手﹐但拒絕道歉。這就是所謂的‘亞羅號事件’。1856年10月﹐英國首先挑起戰爭﹐炮轟廣州﹐第二次鴉片戰爭開始。

這裡說的亞羅號事件大體符合歷史事實。至于殺法國天主教神甫馬賴(Auguste Chapdelaine)﹐至今仍是一筆糊涂賬。馬氏是1856年2月29日被廣西西林代理知縣張鳴鳳所殺的。直至法國公使查問﹐張鳴鳳仍然矢口否認﹐說根本沒有這回事。致使廣西按察使和兩廣總督到了1858年初還信以為真﹐據此回答法國公使和上奏朝廷。

1844年10月訂立的中法《黃埔條約》規定﹐法國人只准在五口通商的雙方“議定界址內”活動﹐“法蘭西無論何人﹐如有犯此例禁﹐或越界﹐或遠入內地﹐聽憑中國官查拿﹐但應解送近口法蘭西領事官收管﹔中國官民均不得毆打﹑傷害﹑虐待所獲法蘭西人﹐以傷兩國和好。”

馬氏1842年起﹐便到西林傳教﹐《黃埔條約》訂立後仍不離開﹐這是違反條約的錯誤行為。但把他處死﹐顯然是西林地方官員的行為﹐違反了應把拘捕的法國人解送領事的條約義務。直至現在人們仍無法確定馬氏確有該處死刑的哪些罪。按照程序正義優先的法學觀點﹐中方無疑理虧。教科書對此事的評述是不准確的。

還要指出﹐教科書只字不提引發這次戰爭的兩條根本原因﹕一是英國政府要求清政府忠實履行《江寧條約》的規定﹐其中重要一點是讓英國官員和商人可以自由進入廣州城。讓洋人進城﹐現在看來﹐完全是不值一提的小事﹐當時在五口通商的其他四口盡管也有過大小不一的糾紛﹐但都一一化解﹐沒有釀成巨禍。惟獨在廣州﹐卻驚動朝野上下﹐鬧得天翻地覆﹐開各地反入城斗爭的先河﹐歷時十多年無法解決﹐直至兵戎相見。

二是《望廈條約》規定﹕“所有貿易及海關各款恐不無稍有變通之處﹐應俟十二年後﹐兩國派員公平酌辦。”《黃埔條約》亦規定﹕“若有應行更易章程條款之處……核計滿十二年之數﹐方可與中國再行籌議。”修改有關的通商條款﹐本屬平常外交事務﹐清政府也一再拖延﹐加深了雙方的矛盾。

關于挑起這次戰爭的原因﹐當時的有識之士就有所反思。深悉內情的薛福成沉痛地說﹕“英人初志在得入城見大吏﹐借以通隔閡﹑馭商民﹐乃粵民一激再激﹐葉相(葉名琛)復一誤再誤﹐使拱手而有粵城……益知中國易與﹐遂糾法﹑俄﹑美三國兵船北上﹐駛入大沽﹐阻我海運﹐立約而還……粵民激于前此大府議和之憤﹐萬眾一辭﹐牢不可破﹐必阻其入城一事以為快﹐屢請屢拒﹐紛紜者二十年﹐而大沽之失﹐天津之約﹐皆成于此﹐由今觀之﹐甚無謂也。”晚清曾國藩﹑李鴻章﹑馮桂芬﹑郭嵩燾等人屢以“勿以小嫌釀大舋”相告誡﹐其中就包含了以廣州反入城斗爭為開端的慘痛教訓。

同屬中華人民共和國﹐香港的中學歷史教科書就比大陸編得高明。它把這次戰爭的起因歸結為四點﹕1﹒外人入城問題。2﹒續修條約問題。3﹒阿羅號船事件。4﹒馬賴神父事件。這樣說符合歷史實際﹐無損中國國家利益﹐有利于年輕一代學會冷靜地分析歷史問題﹐顯示出編者是合格的歷史學家。令人不解的是﹕為什麼不向這些本國的同行學習呢﹖

二﹑關于戰爭過程。

1858年﹐大沽被佔﹐英法侵略者兵臨天津城下﹐英法俄美等國先後迫使清政府簽訂了《天津條約》。雖然喪失了不少權利﹐問題總算有個著落﹐雙方還議定翌年在北京互換批准書﹐徹底完成法定程序。如果照雙方的協議辦理﹐導致火燒圓明園的英法聯軍再一次入侵是有可能避免。

可是﹐誰也沒有料到純屬程序性的最後一步還會節外生枝﹐招來更大災禍﹗教科書是這樣寫的﹕“1859年﹐英國公使和法國公使各率一支艦隊北上大沽口﹐准備進京換約。清政府指定換約代表由北塘登陸﹐經天津至北京﹐並要求各兵船武裝人員不得登岸。英法公使卻仗恃武力﹐堅持要從大沽口溯白河進京。他們蠻橫地率艦隊闖入大沽口。防守大沽炮臺的士兵開炮打擊入侵者。炮彈准確地落在侵略軍的軍艦上﹐打沉了四艘﹐打壞了六艘﹐其余三艘掛起白旗逃跑了。在炮戰的同時﹐侵略軍900人企圖登陸﹐也被打退。侵略軍死傷幾百人。大沽一帶人民冒著槍林彈雨﹐給戰士送餅送面﹐表現了高度的愛國熱情。”在編者筆下﹐這是一曲愛國英雄進行曲﹐主角是士兵和普通百姓。可是﹐稍加推敲﹐便有很多疑問。

從後果看﹐這一仗顯然打錯了。翌年﹐英法聯軍再次入侵﹐招致北京被佔﹐圓明園被燒。續訂《北京條約》﹐不但規定原訂的《天津條約》繼續有效﹐還招來其他新損失﹕對英法的賠款分別由四百萬兩和二百萬兩一律增至各八百萬兩﹔割讓九龍司﹔允許法籍傳教士在中國自由傳教﹐“並任法國傳教士在各省租買田地﹐建造自便”﹐為日後連綿不斷的教案種下禍根。如果不打﹐不是對中國更有利嗎﹖

人們理所當然應該追問﹕公使走哪條路進京﹐真有那麼重要﹐乃至不惜一戰﹖雙方意見分歧有沒有認真交涉﹖真的是士兵自行開炮還是奉命行事﹖如果是前者﹐這是觸犯軍紀造成嚴重後果的大錯﹐能算是愛國英雄的義舉嗎﹖如屬後者﹐是奉了什麼樣的命令﹖

復查史實﹐這根本不是什麼愛國英雄的壯舉﹐而是愚昧的咸豐皇帝和僧格林沁親王犯下的大罪。而且分歧不是教科書說的走哪條路進京﹐而是要英法使者繞個大彎進天津。當時在僧王幕下的郭嵩燾在日記中留下這樣的記錄﹕1859年4月10日“怡親王至營……言奉旨密商一語﹕如夷人入口不依規矩﹐可悄悄擊之﹐只說是鄉勇﹐不是官兵。予曰﹕凡事須是名正言順﹐須緩緩商之。怡邸憒憒可笑。僧邸商酌再三﹐欲令其由北塘入口﹐繞道至天津……辯論再三始定局﹐附片奏明。”

《北京條約》訂立後﹐他更具體敘述了當時的情況﹕“夷禍成于僧邸之誘擊。去歲之役﹐先後奉詔旨十余﹐飭令迎出攔江沙外曉諭。洎夷船入內河九日﹐僧邸不一遣使往諭。去衣冠自稱鄉勇﹐薄而擊之。仆陳諫再四﹐又慮語言不能通曉﹐兩上書力爭。”曾國藩對他的幕僚說過﹕“咸豐九年﹐洋人來換和約﹐僧忠親王誘而擊沉其船﹐天下稱快。十年﹐夷人復至……京師不守﹐幾喪天下。某謂僧邸此敗﹐義當殺身以謝天下矣。”他們說的情況﹐同當時在現場的英國公使卜魯斯的報告如出一轍。英法軍艦6月16日已經到達﹐直到25日早晨才接到直隸總督恆福的照會﹐而當時軍事行動已經開始。這些史料可以歸納為這麼幾點﹕

1﹒咸豐皇帝決定在一定條件下﹐可以讓官兵假扮鄉勇﹐“悄悄”襲擊洋鬼子。同時﹐他又十余次下令﹐要先“曉諭”洋人﹐先禮後兵。

2﹒僧格林沁忠實執行了“悄悄擊之”的旨意﹐但沒有事先曉諭﹔也堅決拒絕手下大臣的勸阻﹔並且是要洋人從北塘登陸﹐繞道至天津的設計者。

3﹒對這一喪權辱國的橫禍﹐以曾國藩﹑郭嵩燾﹑吳汝綸等為代表(還包括李鴻章﹑馮桂芬等人)的比較清醒的官僚和士紳﹐已經有過嚴厲的批評和諷喻。

令人震驚的是﹕時至20世紀90年代﹐我們的教科書﹐仍然按咸豐皇帝和僧格林沁的調子唱歌﹐不同之處僅在把“鄉勇”換成“士兵”﹗

說到這裡﹐我們可以回答火燒圓明園是不是可以避免的問題了。面對咄咄逼人的強敵﹐作為弱勢的大清帝國一方﹐明智的選擇是嚴格執行現有條約﹐避免與之正面沖突﹐爭取時間﹐改革和發展自己。而當時的政府和士紳﹐完全被極端的情緒支配﹐在小事上制造違約的蠢行﹐結果釀成大禍。如果清政府決策層和有關的地方督撫不是那麼愚昧﹐這場災禍是有可能避免的。可是﹐朝野上下的認識水平和專制的決策程序﹐是歷史的積淀﹐不是朝夕所能改變﹔侵略的本性又決定了他們不可能成為文明之師﹔于是﹐這場災禍又是難以避免的。

是愛國壯舉還是有悖文明行為

再來看看教科書的作者對義和團事件的評述吧。

教科書正確揭露了“八國聯軍侵佔北京以後﹐燒殺搶掠﹐無惡不作”﹔“在八國聯軍進攻天津的時候……(俄國)制造了駭人聽聞的海蘭泡大屠殺慘案。俄國軍隊還強佔了中國江東六十四屯﹐殘酷屠殺當地居民。”此外的論述只能說是錯誤連篇。

一﹑教科書沒有只字提及義和團敵視現代文明和盲目排斥外國人以及外來文化的極端愚昧的行為。

義和團毀電線﹑毀學校﹑拆鐵路﹑燒洋貨﹑殺洋人和與外國人及外國文化有點關系的中國人……凡沾點洋氣的物和人﹐必徹底消滅而後快。即使義和團真的立下了“扶清滅洋”的偉大功勛﹐也不能回避它的這些反文明﹑反人類的錯誤﹐何況正是這些罪惡行徑給國家和人民帶來莫大的災難﹗這些都是眾所周知的史實﹐也是中國人不能忘記的國恥﹐而我們的少年兒童必讀的教科書卻偏偏閉口不談。

教科書也談到拆毀鐵路。它是怎麼說的呢﹖“1900年6月……八國侵略軍2000多人﹐由英國海軍司令西摩爾率領﹐從大沽經天津向北京進犯。義和團拆毀從天津到北京的鐵道﹐奮起狙擊侵略軍。侵略軍在廊坊一帶被義和團包圍﹐死傷多人﹐狼狽逃回天津。”如此說來﹐拆毀鐵路不過是抵抗侵略者迫不得已的措施。實際情況怎樣﹖

1900年5月28日(陰歷五月初一)﹐直隸總督裕祿致電總理各國事務衙門﹕“二十九夜(5月27日)先聞涿州至琉璃河一帶猝被拳匪將鐵路焚毀﹐詎今早由琉璃河至長辛店一百余裡沿途鐵道車站橋梁並局所洋房﹐均有拳匪蜂起焚燒”。與此同時﹐各地紛紛告急﹕“刻下電線又阻……至長辛店線阻﹐由琉璃河至涿州線﹐被匪徒砍斷﹐所有電均被阻滯。”他們破壞這些設施完全出于對外來事物的敵視﹐而不是為了抵抗侵略者不得不採取的應急行動。同時﹐這類行動波及各地﹐不是局部性的偶發現象。也就是說﹐這是蓄意破壞財產的罪行﹐而不是某些史家說的抵抗侵略者的功勛。從時間看﹐西摩爾軍從出發到被迫撤回天津是6月10日至26日之間的事﹐而在此之前拆毀鐵路﹑電線﹐焚燒車站﹑搶掠財產的急報﹐已紛至沓來。義和團燒殺搶掠﹑敵視和肆意摧毀現代文明在前﹐八國聯軍進軍在後﹐這個次序是歷史事實﹐無法也不應修改。

二﹑教科書也沒有譴責清政府高級官員及義和團亂殺無辜﹐燒殺搶掠的野蠻﹑殘忍的罪行。

最有代表性的是山西巡撫毓賢的作為。六月初一(6月27日)﹐他將太原洋人辦的醫院燒掉﹐同時“將省中洋人﹐誘令遷居一處。當于教堂內搜出婦女二百一十一口﹐年老者數人﹐而五六歲十余歲至二三十歲者居多……于六月十三日﹐不動聲色﹐帶領兵勇﹐前赴洋人聚居之處﹐親自兜拿。該洋人等尤敢拼力抗拒﹐奴才麾令勇敢數人﹐冒死突進﹐將洋人大小男女四十四口﹐及同惡相濟的教民十七名﹐一齊擒獲﹐立即綁赴市曹﹐同時正法”﹔“壽陽縣秦錫圭?獲滋事之洋人七名口﹐押解前來﹐一並將其立正典刑。是晚北門教堂亦為拳民焚燒﹐省城洋人教堂已無遺跡”。當時的報刊還報道﹕“寓晉西人﹐得京師亂耗。群求毓賢保護。不料竟誘聚而殲之﹐且手刃數人焉。”

毓賢的行為不是孤立的。所有不思進取的頑固分子﹐都是傳統文化中最落後﹑野蠻的成分的繼承者﹐這類頑固官僚趁機為非作歹的事例不勝枚舉。例如﹐輔國公載瀾是奉旨會同載勛﹑剛毅“統率”京津義和團的宗室﹐其殘暴就不讓毓賢﹕“京師亂起﹐載瀾從拳匪入人家﹐大索﹐得氈布及他物﹐皆以教民論﹐扑殺之﹐雖宗室大臣不免”。

再看看義和團的所作所為吧。前人早已指出﹐不能把所有參加義和團的民眾都視為匪徒﹐他們不少是盲從的愚民﹐但混跡其間的確實不少是土匪和流氓。總計在義和團事件中﹐全國各地1900年6月24日~7月24日期間﹐被殺外國人231名﹐其中兒童53名。他們大都死于義和團之手。至于中國的教徒(教民)和所謂“二毛子”被殺的﹐更是沒有算清的糊涂賬﹐其中絕大部分是被義和團殺死的﹐官兵也殺了一些。僅山西一省﹐就有中國天主教徒5700余人被殺。奉天(遼寧)全省“教民人命千余”。“而直隸(河北)全省殺人焚屋之案﹐幾于無縣無之。其殺人多者﹐一縣竟至一二千名口”。甚至浙江亦“搶劫﹑焚毀教民家室至一千余家之眾”。

“受害最烈”的北京﹐當時有關人士留下不少實錄﹕1900年6月18日“城中日焚劫﹐火光連日夜……夙所不快者﹐即指為教民﹐全家皆盡﹐死者十數萬人。其殺人則刀矛並下﹐肌體分裂﹐嬰兒生未匝月者﹐亦殺之殘酷無復人理”。“法國天主堂在西安門內西什庫﹐剛相(剛毅)嘗督兵攻之﹐亦不能破﹐拳實不敢前﹐嘩噪而已。拳匪既不得志﹐無以塞後意﹐乃噪而出永定門。鄉民適趨市集﹐七十余人悉縶以來﹔偽飾優伶冠服兒童戲物﹐指為白蓮教﹔下刑部一夕﹐未訊供﹐駢斬西市。有婦人寧家﹐亦陷其中﹐雜誅之﹐兒猶在抱也……毓鼎上疏力爭之﹐謂﹕‘謀亂當有據﹐羸翁弱婦﹐非謀亂之人﹔優裝玩具﹐非謀亂之物……’疏入﹐獄已具”。

6月16日﹐“是日九點中﹐團匪燒大柵欄德記藥房﹐延燒糧食店﹑燈市街﹑觀音寺﹑珠寶市……共計店鋪四千余家﹐火至天明未息。匪禁水會救火”。這個京師最繁華的地區于是毀于一旦。總的說來﹐“京師盛時﹐居人殆四百萬。自拳匪暴軍之亂﹐劫盜乘之﹐鹵掠一空﹐無得免者。坊市蕭條﹐狐狸晝出﹐向之摩肩擊轂者﹐如行墟墓間矣。”這是所謂義和團“革命”的後果之一。

開頭﹐民眾與傳教士和教民的矛盾令人同情﹔可是﹐他們後來的作為遠遠超過與外來宗教矛盾的界線。事件過後直至民國初年﹐朝野各界將這個組織定性為拳匪是有足夠根據的。

三﹑令人無法理解的是它對慈禧的專制淫威惹來滔天大禍竟只字不提﹗

義和團興起之初﹐袁世凱就上奏“其用以惑人者﹐謂能避槍炮。然迭與鄉團﹑教民﹑兵役格斗﹐一遇槍炮﹐輒傷斃多人﹐瓦解鼠竄……其藉以動人者﹐謂圖滅洋教。然上年春夏間﹐在曹州﹑濟寧各屬﹐掠教民一千一百余家﹐並掠及平民二百余家。秋冬間在東陽﹑濟南各屬﹐掠教民六百余家﹐亦掠及平民百余家。內多擄架勒贖之案﹐直與盜匪無異。故教民既被其殃﹐而平民亦多受其害。”而且有些地位比袁世凱更高的大臣(如北洋大臣﹑直隸總督裕祿等等)也提出了類似的意見。慈禧充耳不聞﹐比較清醒的眾多大臣只好保持緘默﹐品質不良之輩則乘風轉舵﹐諂上邀寵(如裕祿)。

一個在六年前連一個“敢于犯上”的“蕞爾小國”───日本都無法招架的弱國﹐居然要同時向包括日本在內的11國宣戰﹗《國際法》傳入中國60年後﹐竟要派兵圍攻駐華使館﹗

為了決定和戰大計﹐從1900年6月16日開始﹐慈禧一連四天召集王公大臣六部九卿開御前會議。在會上吏部侍郎許景澄﹑兵部尚書徐用儀﹑戶部尚書立山﹑內閣學士聯元等人先後提出不能聽信邪術﹑不可圍攻使館﹑不能主動對外宣戰。總理各國事務衙門大臣袁昶和許景澄在兩人聯名的奏折中寫道﹕“伏以春秋之義﹐兩國兵﹐不戮行人﹐泰西公法﹐尤以公使為國之重臣﹐蔑視其公使﹐即蔑視其國。茲若任令該匪攻毀使館﹐盡殺使臣﹐各國引為大恥﹐聯合一氣﹐致死報復……以一國而敵各國﹐臣愚以謂不獨勝負攸關﹐實存亡攸關也。”慈禧不但不接納這些淺顯的常識﹐而且大發專制淫威﹐把他們的腦袋砍掉﹗

同時﹐包括毓賢殺洋人在內的罪行﹐大都發生在6月21日下詔與各國宣戰﹑6月24日命各省督撫殺洋人以後。首犯是慈禧﹐毓賢﹑載漪等人不過是凶狠的執行者。

四﹑教科書對一些史料的運用也很不嚴肅。

“義和團﹐起山東﹐不到三月遍地紅。孩童個個拿起刀﹐保國逞英雄。”教科書以突出位置刊載了這一歌謠﹐說是“義和團歌謠”。可是﹐筆者孤陋寡聞﹐讀過的現存義和團傳單﹑揭帖等書面材料中找不到可以作為根據的史料。而後來調查的所謂口頭傳說﹐往往是後人加工乃至創造的﹐根本不足為憑。(chinesenewsnet.com)

教科書又說﹕“北京東單西裱胡同有座于謙廟。為了學習于謙的愛國精神﹐1900年4月﹐義和團進城後﹐把神壇設在這裡。”一切學術觀點都應拒絕牽強附會﹐要經得起反駁。載漪﹑載瀾等禍國殃民的滿清權貴家裡都設有義和團神壇﹐這又是向他們學習什麼﹖

在我國﹐除了上述人民教育出版社出版的教科書外﹐還有一套可供選用的沿海地區教材。號稱沿海版﹐有的地方史實錯誤更嚴重﹐是非觀念更加糊涂。

例如﹐對義和團事件的論述﹐它增加了這麼兩句話﹕“6月中旬以後﹐義和團群眾開始圍攻侵略者據點西什庫教堂和外國使館區。清政府卻暗中派人給被圍困的侵略者送去糧食﹑蔬菜﹑酒﹑水果等﹐表示慰問。”每句話都錯得一塌糊涂﹗

首先要問﹕西什庫教堂是“侵略者據點”嗎﹖在義和團事件前﹐這不過是普通的法國天主教堂﹐沒有材料足以證明它是“侵略者據點”。義和團期間﹐從1900年6月13日起幾天內就將北京大部分教堂和洋樓燒毀﹐連帶燒掉數千家民居和商店﹐劫余的西什庫教堂和東交民巷使館區聚集了大批逃生的外國人和中國教民。這個教堂的逃生者﹐在清政府不能維持正常社會秩序的情況下﹐固守反抗屠殺﹐于理于法都無可指責。說這個教堂是“侵略者據點”﹐完全是信口開河.

其次﹐圍攻東交民巷是奉慈禧的旨意﹐主力是董福祥的甘軍和榮祿的武衛中軍﹐是他們犯下的罪行﹐義和團則是助紂為虐。含糊其詞﹐仿佛此舉是義和團自發的愛國義舉﹐不但歪曲了歷史真相﹐也掩蓋了清政府踐踏國際法的罪行。再次﹐對西什庫教堂和使館區的進攻﹐充分體現了專制統治者極端愚昧無知和殘暴﹔時至20世紀90年代仍然正面予以肯定﹐這是對國際法的無知﹐已經淪為對國恥的頌揚﹐也忘記了“反對封建專制”的責任﹗

再看第二句。清政府確實曾派人給被圍困的外國使館送過生活日用品﹐這是奉旨公開進行的﹐說是“暗中”于史無據。當時﹐清政府內部比較清醒的大臣一再上奏﹐要求按照國際慣例保護外國外交人員和外國人﹔東南各省的督撫甚至公開聲明不再承認6月21日宣戰後的“偽詔”。迫于這些壓力﹐加上她色厲內荏﹐要預留“轉圜”余地﹐不得不作出這樣的姿態。不管是真是假﹐這是清政府內部理性尚未完全泯滅的表現。把它與義和團的行動對舉而意含貶損﹐顯然是很不恰當的。

對義和團事件和八國聯軍評述比較全面的同樣是香港的教科書。它既譴責義和團“大肆排外﹐殺教士﹑教民﹐連藏洋書﹑戴眼鏡的人都不放過﹐且到處破壞﹐燒教堂﹑拆電線﹑毀鐵路。”“日本使館書記杉山彬﹑德國公使克林德先後被殺”﹔也指出“當時聯軍紀律極壞﹐任意焚掠屠殺﹐其中以俄﹑德兩國軍隊及英國的印度兵最為殘暴。”細致分析了義和團產生的背景﹕1﹒民族情緒。2﹒民生困苦。3﹒列強侵略。4﹒教案頻生。還全面論述了辛丑條約的內容及它對當時和日後中國的深遠影響。任何不抱偏見的人都會承認﹐這部教科書說的是真實的歷史.

如何面對被侮辱和被損害的狀況?

出現這些現象與中國長期處于被侮辱和被損害的境遇息息相關。面對如是現實﹐可以有不同的心態。


西方的入侵徹底改變了中國歷史的行程。伴之而生的是天朝大國的表象破裂﹐大量民眾在生死線上掙扎。人們順理成章把這種狀況歸罪于“洋鬼子”﹔也譴責統治者腐朽﹑愚昧﹑軟弱。一個辯論不休難于取得共識的問題是﹕內因還是外因是導致這個狀況的主要根源﹖

其實﹐完全可以從另外一個角度提出問題﹕這個狀況遲遲不能改變的原因何在﹖如果有人說這是因為帝國主義者太凶狠了﹐這等于什麼都沒有說。經過長期﹑復雜﹑反復的博弈過程﹐在國際關系中可以逐步建立比較合乎多數人和多數國家長遠利益的“正義”秩序。當這個狀況尚未出現以前﹐不會有救世主從天而降﹐慷慨代你維護國家利益。問題只能歸結為面對這樣的現實﹐如何才能走出困境﹖

海內外的經驗證明﹕後發展國家和地區(殖民地﹑半殖民地)改變不發達狀況﹐改變被動局面的惟一道路﹐是向西方列強學習﹐實現社會生活的全面現代化。成敗的關鍵在國內的改革。這是一個社會運行機制的全面改造過程。對那些文化自成體系﹐而對外來文化深閉固拒的國家說來﹐這是十分艱難的過程。以中國來說﹐從鴉片戰爭算起至20世紀初實行新政﹐僅是辯論要不要改革就整整花掉60年﹗至于改革取向﹐包括是通過革命手段還是通過漸進的改革開闢前進道路﹐更是頭緒繁復。不過﹐有一條是肯定無疑的﹕必須千方百計爭取一個和平的國際環境﹐為國內的改革和建設贏得充分的時間。如果此說大致不差﹐回頭再看義和團﹐對內﹐它是與社會前進方向背道而馳的反動事件。對外﹐亂殺洋人不但是反人道﹑反文明的罪行﹐也是極端愚蠢危害中國自身利益的暴行。

有個流行多年為義和團事件辯護的論斷﹕義和團避免了中國被瓜分。早在1989年已故歷史學家李時岳先生已經詳盡地駁斥了這一詭辯。不但4億5千萬兩賠款(相當于當時將近6年的全國財政收入)像一支巨大的吸血管插進中國人的胸膛﹐而且給沙俄藉口﹐趁機制造了海蘭泡和江東64屯慘案﹐7000多中國人被殺﹐江東領土全被吞沒﹐大量俄軍進佔東北﹔華北地區在戰爭中死傷燒殺的損失難以數計。戰後的瓜分陰謀更沒有停止﹕英軍進攻西藏﹐佔領拉薩﹔德國派炮艦進入洞庭湖﹐並要求租借洞庭湖和鄱陽湖沿岸﹔英國則相應要求租借舟山群島作為“補償”﹗

有人喜歡援引八國聯軍統帥﹑德國人瓦德西的這麼一段話﹕“無論歐美日本各國﹐皆無此腦力與兵力可以統治此天下生靈四分之一﹐故瓜分一事﹐實為下策。”證明義和團化解了瓜分圖謀。李時岳先生說得好﹕“瓦德西個人的觀感並不能代表德國的政策﹐德皇一直把瓜分作為對華政策的基點﹐上述要求‘租借’洞庭湖和鄱陽湖沿岸的行動就是證明。只是由于帝國主義之間的矛盾﹐瓜分才沒有實行。”

把視野放得更寬一些﹐問題就更加清楚。前人早已指出﹕甲午戰爭﹑戊戌變法和義和團事件是一條割不斷的歷史鏈條。說得更准確一些是﹕甲午戰爭徹底暴露了大清帝國的腐朽﹐不少知識階層從幾十年迷夢中驚醒﹐反思自強運動不敢觸及“自由不自由”這個根本問題的錯誤﹐形成了第一次群眾性啟蒙運動﹐改革也有新進展。是學習西方徹底改革﹐還是固守傳統﹐不准變革﹐成了中國盛衰的關鍵﹐也是解讀這段歷史的基本線索。不幸﹐體現甲午戰敗後的變革進程進入高潮的戊戌變法以失敗告終。戊戌政變標志著學西方﹑求變革的挫折和倒退﹔義和團事件不過是政變後固守傳統反對變革的反動逆流的巔峰。換句話說﹐義和團事件對外使中國在被奴役的附屬國的道路上繼續沉淪﹐對內則舉目皆是國破家亡的圖景。

走出把革命粗鄙化的文化心態

2000~2001年之間﹐引起中國人關注的一個國際事件﹐是日本的教科書問題。一部右翼勢力編纂的歷史教科書掩蓋歷史真相﹐否認日本政府犯下的侵略罪行﹐激起包括中韓兩國政府和人民在內的海內外朝野人士強烈抗議。這是伸張正義的斗爭﹐而且這是20年間第四次了。1982﹑1986﹑1996年都曾出現新修教科書歪曲歷史﹐一再在日本國內外激起公憤。這一日本思想文化領域的頑症﹐促使許多人形成一個極為深刻的印象﹕日本人缺乏懺悔意識。人們還進一步追問﹕為什麼會出現這樣死不認罪的現象﹖這是不是大和民族特有的缺陷﹖

看看上述中國的教科書問題﹐一個合理的推斷是﹐我們的近代史觀也有類似的問題。當然日本是侵略者﹐中國是被侵略者﹐這是截然不同的。可是﹐兩者也有共同點﹕社會的主流文化都對自己的近代史缺乏深刻的反思。


從20世紀初開始﹐中國的有識之士一再提出要改造中國人的“國民性”。這些先驅用心良苦﹐但他們沒有進一步追問﹕決定國民性的主要因素是什麼﹖可以說﹐國民性是一國公民思維和行為方式的特點。任何民族都是從吃人生番演變過來的。作為一個群體﹐文明程度的高低和野蠻孑遺的大小﹐決定性的因素是受文化傳統和制度制約的自我淨化能力的強弱。

被侮辱被損害的屈辱﹐給中國人構筑了新的思想定勢。這突出地表現在長期以來形成的一個似是而非的觀念﹕因為“洋鬼子”是侵略者﹐中國人怎麼做都是有理﹐都應歌頌。這是愛國主義的要求。


現在的歷史教科書就是以此為指導思想的。熱愛自己的祖國﹐理所當然。可是﹐如何愛國﹐卻有兩種不同的選擇。一種是盲目煽動民族情緒﹔中國傳統文化中“嚴華夷之辨”﹑“非我族類﹐其心必異”等觀念已經深入骨髓。時至今日﹐余毒未清。新的版本是﹕中外矛盾﹐中國必對﹔反列強﹑反洋人就是愛國。在史料選擇和運用中﹐不管是真是假﹐有利中國的就用。另一種選擇是﹕以理性的態度分析一切﹔是其是﹐非其非﹐冷靜﹑客觀﹑全面地看待和處理一切涉外矛盾。

現代化的基本精神就是理性化。如果我們認同這個基本觀點﹐就應該引導中國人往這條道上走﹐讓理性﹑寬容內在化﹐成為中國人的國民性﹐以利各國人民和各種文化和諧共處。在全球化迅猛發展的時代﹐企業之間和國家之間的利益沖突不可能泯滅﹔理性地認識和化解矛盾對任何國家和企業都是最好的選擇。如果一涉外就是“反帝”﹑“反霸”﹐非把事情弄砸不可。

例如﹐法是人類文明的結晶﹐社會運行的規則。國際條約是有法律效力的。人們可以指責這些規則和條約是列強主導下形成的﹐不利于弱國和貧苦民眾。人們應該不斷批判和揭露它的謬誤﹐通過各種力量的博弈﹐形成新的規則﹐修訂新的條約。可是﹐在沒有修改以前﹐我們仍然不得不遵守它﹐否則就會造成不應有的混亂﹐歸根到底不利于弱國和多數民眾。

19﹑20世紀中國人干了不少“無法無天”的事﹐義和團事件是其中的典型。值得重視的是不但至今有人把野蠻的行為說成是“革命”﹐而且到了20世紀90年代﹐有人竟把主張遵守現行國際條約的觀點視為應該嚴加批判的賣國投降觀點﹗

說到底﹐這是把革命粗鄙化的流毒。

必須清醒地看到﹐在社會領域﹐只有引發制度變革的行動﹐才稱得上真正的革命。太平天國和義和團都不符合這個要求。這樣的歪曲實際是把革命粗鄙化﹐遲早總要付出代價。

不能輕視這些錯誤教育的後果。違反常識理性﹐以“革命”的名義故意歪曲歷史真相﹐歌頌義和團的直接惡果在“文化大革命”中就暴露無遺。紅衛兵火燒英國代辦處﹐是義和團行動的翻版﹔“破四舊”和“反帝”﹑“反修”中體現的清除外來事物的瘋狂﹐這些行動體現的內在理路﹐也與義和團的“滅洋”如出一轍。

上述教科書的編寫所呈現的理路﹐也沒有什麼不同。它們的共同點是﹕1﹒現有的中華文化至高無上。2﹒外來文化的邪惡﹐侵蝕了現有文化的純潔。3﹒應該或可以用政權或暴民專制的暴力去清除思想文化領域的邪惡。用這樣的理路潛移默化我們的孩子﹐不管主觀意圖如何﹐都是不可寬宥的戕害。

為了培育理性的有法治觀念的現代公民﹐以利于現代化事業﹐現在是糾正這些謬誤的時候了。