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Time Magazine

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Jeffrey Wasserstrom: A Reformist Chinese Leader? Stop Fooling Yourself

    Jeffrey Wasserstrom is the author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, an updated edition of which has just been published by Oxford University Press.For those of us who have tracked Chinese political trends since the late 1970s when Deng Xiaoping came to power, reading the news about China these days can prove strangely disorienting. One week, we’ll be struck by a slew of stories, on everything from fast trains to record growth rates, which underscore how different China is than it was when Deng first launched his reforms. The next week, though, we’ll be struck just as powerfully by a sense of eerie familiarity. Headline after headline — about the intractability of corruption, the death of a watermelon vendor or a petitioner’s desperate attempt to draw attention to this plight by detonating an explosive device at a Beijing airport — seem just like those we came across a few years or even a couple of decades ago.

  • Originally published 07/11/2013

    Jeffrey Wasserstrom: Why Bad News Elsewhere Is Good News for China

    Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor’s Professor of History at UC Irvine and the author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, an updated edition of which has just been published.China’s appearance in international headlines thus far in 2013 has often been because of quality of life issues. The year began with reports of unusually high smog levels in Beijing and images of massive numbers of dead pigs clogging Shanghai waterways. Next came stories of a run on milk-powder supplies in Hong Kong, triggered by ongoing fears over tainted baby formula on the mainland. And now comes a study suggesting that simply breathing the foul air of northern China can shorten your life expectancy by more than five years. Given the extent to which China’s leaders have based their legitimacy on the notion that they are making life better and better for ordinary Chinese people, it’s worth asking whether this rash of bad news could have an impact on a different sort of life-expectancy issue: that of China’s Communist Party.

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Jim Downs (with Elizabeth Dias): The Horror Upstairs

    Jim Downs teaches history at Connecticut College.Francis Dufrene lived for Sunday nights. tall and lean with a pile of blond hair, the 21-year-old would take two buses from his home in the New Orleans suburbs to make it to the Upstairs Lounge by 5 p.m., when the French Quarter bar held its weekly beer bust--two hours of all-you-can-drink drafts for $1.From the outside, the Upstairs didn't look much different from the other gay bars on a particularly seedy stretch of Iberville Street. But up 13 steps on the second floor was a refuge....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    World’s first website back online

    Content on the Internet is ephemeral. A website can be online one minute, and taken down the next. As permanent as we think our Internet footprints are, the Web is perpetually changing. Much of the early Internet has been lost.One very important webpage, however, has been rescued from history. Yesterday, European particle physics laboratory CERN returned the first ever Internet website to its rightful place on the Web.Originally created by CERN in 1992, the world’s first website invokes a time long past when pages were just plain text on a white background. There are no advertisements, no pictures, and certainly no video. It’s an entirely utilitarian site rendered in Times New Roman, the most default of fonts....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    Computing Pioneer Harry Huskey Is Honored at 97

    On Saturday evening, I was a very happy attendee of the Computer History Museum’s Fellow Awards, an inspiring annual event which celebrates the contributions of individuals whose work has changed the course of computing history. Three people were honored this year: Ed Catmull, Harry Huskey and Bob Taylor.Ed Catmull, as I knew, started out as a computer graphics scientist, became one of the founders of Pixar and is now the president of both that extraordinary company and Walt Disney Feature Animation. I was also well aware that Bob Taylor headed up the research efforts at ARPA and Xerox PARC which produced the Internet, the modern graphical user interface, Ethernet, the laser printer and other utterly essential technologies.But Harry Huskey? I’d never heard of the man. Turns out that he did an awful lot — and, having been born in 1916, he did much of it in the very early days of the computing industry, even before the word “computer” came into use....

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Yamamoto's unsettled legacy

    NAGAOKA, Japan – Seven decades after the death of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in an aerial ambush in the South Pacific, Japan is still struggling with how to remember the charismatic naval commander who opposed war with the United States, but nonetheless planned the deadly attack on Pearl Harbor.With tensions once again growing in East Asia and public acceptance of Japan’s military forces beginning to rise, Japan could be ready for a more open discussion of the war era – and its leaders.“They don’t teach about this period in high schools, so people under 50 years old don’t know much about it. But because of the Senkaku problem, people are beginning to get interested,” said Yukoh Watanabe, an amateur naval historian who attended a private memorial service in Yamamoto’s hometown last week....

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Jon Meachem: Ronnie's Friend Maggie

    Jon Meachem is the author of "Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship."The phrase, inevitably, is Winston Churchill's. Long an advocate of Anglo-American alliance, the wartime British Prime Minister often spoke of what he called the "ties of blood and history" between the two nations. For Churchill, a "special relationship" with the U.S. had been a matter not of choice or convenience but of life and death. Faced with Nazi Germany's blitzkrieg across Western Europe in 1940, the new Prime Minister had no doubt about which way salvation lay. No lover, Churchill later remarked, had ever studied the whims of his mistress as he did those of Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was "the New World, with all its power and might," Churchill declared in the wake of Dunkirk in 1940, that one day would come "to the rescue and the liberation of the Old."

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Chuck Spinney: Inside the Decider’s Head

    Franklin (Chuck) Spinney retired from the Defense Department in 2003 after a military-civilian career spanning 33 years. The latter 26 of those years were as a staff analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.In the summer of 2002, during the lead-up to the Iraq war, a White House official expressed displeasure with an article written by journalist Ron Suskind in Esquire. He asserted that people like Suskind were trapped “in what we call the reality-based community,” which the official defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.”Suskind murmured something about enlightenment principles grounded in scientific empiricism, but the official cut him off, saying, “That’s not the way the world really works anymore … We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” [Emphasis added.]

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Time Magazine: Was Marx right?

    Karl Marx was supposed to be dead and buried. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and China’s Great Leap Forward into capitalism, communism faded into the quaint backdrop of James Bond movies or the deviant mantra of Kim Jong Un. The class conflict that Marx believed determined the course of history seemed to melt away in a prosperous era of free trade and free enterprise. The far-reaching power of globalization, linking the most remote corners of the planet in lucrative bonds of finance, outsourcing and “borderless” manufacturing, offered everybody from Silicon Valley tech gurus to Chinese farm girls ample opportunities to get rich. Asia in the latter decades of the 20th century witnessed perhaps the most remarkable record of poverty alleviation in human history — all thanks to the very capitalist tools of trade, entrepreneurship and foreign investment. Capitalism appeared to be fulfilling its promise — to uplift everyone to new heights of wealth and welfare.

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Pink Floyd added to National Recording Registry

    Forty years after its release, Pink Floyd’s groundbreaking album “The Dark Side of the Moon” has found a permanent home in the United States Library of Congress. The prog rock opus is one of 25 recordings being added to the National Recording Registry, the Library announced today.Since 2000, the Library has been tasked by Congress with building a registry of sound recordings that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” to American society and at least a decade old. The 350 recordings already in the registry span the gamut of the aural experience, from an 1888 recording of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” made for a children’s doll by Thomas Edison to “Dear Mama,” a 1995 release by hip-hop star Tupac Shakur. This year’s new additions also include “The Twist” by Chubby Checker, the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever and a broadcast near the shores of Normandy on D-Day by radio correspondent George Hicks. A similar registry was established for film in 1989....

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    A new lease on life for the mysterious lost bank accounts of Switzerland

    One of the most enduring myths associated with Swiss banks is the money of “unknown” origin that has been hidden in their coffers for generations. Because of a number of laws enacted in the past 15 years, Switzerland’s financial institutions are now tightly regulated, but at least one mystery still remains: who owns hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of unclaimed assets languishing in the nation’s banks — and how long will they be kept there?Earlier this month, Switzerland’s parliament set a 62-year deadline for the recovery of unclaimed assets, which are roughly estimated at anywhere from $100 million to $600 million. This means that the banks must keep inactive accounts for six decades after the last contact with the customer, and then turn the assets over to the Swiss government. The new time limit is longer than allowed in most other countries, which liquidate dormant accounts after five to 30 years. And while the deadline is part of larger reforms of the banking sector, it is born out of the scandal that erupted in the 1990s over the dormant World War II accounts stashed in Swiss banks by Jews fleeing Nazi persecution....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Benedict’s Obedience to New Pope Part of Tradition

    (VATICAN CITY) — He slipped it in at the end of his speech, and said it so quickly and softly it almost sounded like an afterthought.But in pledging his “unconditional reverence and obedience” to the next pope, Benedict XVI took a critical step toward ensuring that his decision to break with 600 years of tradition and retire as pope doesn’t create a schism within the church.It was also a very personal expression of one of the tenets of Christian tradition that dates back to Jesus’ crucifixion: obedience to a higher authority....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    ‘Death sandwich’ in Book of Genesis

    “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” reads the opening words of the King James bible. According to new research, those words might be considered a slice of creation-angled bread in ametaphorical sandwich — one with a rather morbid filling.Using a free online analytics tool dubbed “Search Visualizer” that transforms text queries into color-coded visual charts, researchers at Keele University in the U.K. and Amridge University in the U.S. have reportedly discovered an ancient literary trick in the Judeo-Christian Bible’s famous foundational book. That trick, known as inclusio or “bracketing,” involves placing similar material at the beginning and end of something; in Genesis’ cases, the writers appear to have enclosed a midsection thematically dominated by “death” with intro and outro passages devoted to “life.”...The researchers call this the “Genesis Death Sandwich,” reports Science Daily. (It’s also not a bad way to draw attention to your research.)...

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Abraham Lincoln: President, Emancipator, Corporate Pitchman

    For almost a century, Lincoln Motor Company paid homage to our 16th president in name only – hoping the mere mention of the man who saved the Union and abolished slavery would somehow cast an aura of prestige and integrity over their product and resonate with potential car buyers.In December, however, the automaker began using Lincoln’s likeness in its advertising for the first time. The motor company says the move was not tied to the release of Steven Spielberg’s epic film Lincoln – even though parts of the ad for the new MKZ, in which the president’s likeness emerges dramatically from layers of fog, look as if they could’ve been pulled from the cutting room floor.Instead, the automaker told The New York Times, it’s trying to connect its vehicles to Lincoln’s “fortitude and elegant thinking” — and that the timing with the film’s release was just good luck....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Meet Igor Fedyukin, Vladimir Putin's PhD hatchetman

    It’s an open secret in Russia today that many politicians and businessmen pad their resumes with fake diplomas, either plagiarizing their dissertations or paying someone to do it for roughly the cost of a midsize sedan. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, no real effort has been made to stop this practice, in part because so many of the country’s elite — all the way up to President Vladimir Putin — might have their graduate work scrutinized. But on Feb. 6, Putin’s political underling Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev broke the taboo. At a meeting with government officials and academics, he announced a campaign to ferret out fake degrees at every level of society. The number of “phony” diplomas had “burst through all possible limits,” Medvedev said. “This will be a sort of purge.” So how far is he willing to go?...