"I wanted the other actors to know that they could talk to me about anything, including Sam, and it wasn't going to become pillow talk," says Winslet of this unsparing adaptation of the Richard Yates novel, her first experience being directed by her husband Sam Mendes. "I was very conscious of, OK, how am I going to make everyone else feel comfortable, and how am I going to let everyone know that Sam and I aren't constantly in cahoots behind closed doors about everybody else's performance. That didn't happen—I just didn't let it." The result: Leo and Kate, together again a decade after Titanic, in another wrenching portrait of two people trying not to drown.
The Reader, 2008
Winslet at first turned down the role of former concentration camp guard Hanna Schmitz in March 2007; she was just about to start work on her and Mendes' longtime passion project Revolutionary Road, and worried she wouldn't finish in time to take on another project so quickly. "It was strange, though," she said. "Even as I was saying no, I was thinking, 'I don't think I've heard the last of this.' Director Stephen Daldry cast Nicole Kidman instead. "Cut to New Year's Day 2008. The phone rang, and my agent's number came up, and I said to Sam, 'Watch, this is going to be about The Reader.' It kept chasing me!' The agent's message: "Nicole's pregnant. You're on."
Little Children, 2006
Restlessness in the suburbs. A marriage that isn't turning out to be what it was supposed to be. Infidelity that seems more a manifestation of tension than of desire. And a woman who seems ready to crawl out of her own skin from a sense of alienation and entrapment. It's easy to look at Todd Field's smart adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel as a dress rehearsal for the themes of Revolutionary Road, but it's a very different beast, and Winslet gives a tough-minded, rigorous performance as a bright young woman who sees herself as a kind of anthropologist of her own bedroom community and never imagines she'll get lost in the jungle.
Winslet won an Emmy nomination for playing a coarse, ruthlessly ambitious version of herself on Ricky Gervais' cult comedy, hilariously telling Gervais that she's playing a nun in a Holocaust movie because "I've noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust, you're guaranteed an Oscar. I've been nominated four times. Never won. The whole WORLD is going, 'Why hasn't Winslet won one?'...Schindler's bloody List, The Pianist...Oscars comin' outta their arse!" "I told you, didn't I?" Gervais joked to her on the air last month, shortly after she won a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for The Reader.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004
Working with Jim Carrey, who proved surprisingly willing to venture out of his own comfort zone, Winslet departed from hers to play Clementine, a half-mad, half-seductive siren who is carrying around the exact same secret as Carrey's character but — like Carrey — doesn't seem to know it. If you want a more coherent explanation, the best thing to do is just give yourself over to Charlie Kaufman's Oscar-winning hall-of-mirrors screenplay and enjoy the improbable romantic sparks that Winslet strikes with a costar who seems to hail from a different acting planet but, charmingly, meets her halfway.
Winslet won her third Oscar nomination for her flashback turn in a handful of strongly etched scenes as the young novelist Iris Murdoch (she split the role with Judi Dench, who played Murdoch as an older woman succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer's disease). Her boldly unsentimental work in this film drew a key admirer — Sam Mendes, whom she met at that year's BAFTA awards and married two years later. "I felt that when I saw her in Iris, that was a watershed performance," says Mendes, "as well as the first performance in which she looked totally like herself."
"Dead in the water," TIME famously pronounced after James Cameron's epic romance screened for critics. Well, not quite: Twelve years later, the movie's $1.8 billion worldwide take still makes it the highest grosser in history. "Leo! Leo! Leo!" was the shriek heard 'round the world, but it was Winslet, playing the high-class, high-spirited object of his affections, who got the Oscar nomination — and promptly ran away from Hollywood as fast as she could, to pursue a couple of small-scale passion projects and regain her bearings as an actress while safely out of hype's way.
Sense and Sensibility, 1995
At one point in the 1990s, a year didn't seem to go by without a new Jane Austen adaptation; this was one of the most acclaimed and popular, a winning take on two sisters' urgent search for marriageable men that brought Winslet together with director Ang Lee (who found her "a very bold-headed type of actress"), screenwriter/star Emma Thompson, and leading men Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant. "I'm not that period babe at all," a 20-year-old Winslet insisted to the New York Times in 1995. Audiences disagreed; the film yielded Winslet's first Academy Award nomination, for Best Supporting Actress.
Heavenly Creatures, 1994
Winslet hit the jackpot on her very first film audition, winning a costarring role in director Peter Jackson's breakthrough feature as a teenaged girl whose obsessive fantasy life and friendship with another troubled adolescent leads them both to murder. (The story is based on the early life of convicted killer turned mystery writer Anne Perry.) Though barely out of school when she made the film, Winslet was already demonstrating a precocious appetite for exploring the darker sides of her characters; reviewing the movie, TIME's Richard Corliss called her "perfect, fearless in embodying teenage hysteria."
As the financial crisis of 2008 became the worldwide economic crisis of 2009, the mainstream Western media began noticing the 'bargain' China had made with developed economies, above all the United States, that led to imbalances that helped cause the crash.
This passage of Postcards is part of an attempt to explain not simply the political calculation behind this 'grand bargain' but also the day by day mechanics through which it worked.
The passage picks up with an interview in which Lawrence Summers is commenting on the pattern through which a country full of poor people, China, kept sending money to a country full of rich people, the United States:
“From a distance, this, to say the least, is strange,” Lawrence Summers, the former treasury secretary and president of Harvard, told me last year in Shanghai. He was referring to the oddity that a country with so many of its own needs still unmet would let “this $1 trillion go to a mature, old, rich place from a young, dynamic place.”
It’s more than strange. Some Chinese people are rich, but China as a whole is unbelievably short on many of the things that qualify countries as fully developed. Shanghai has about the same climate as Washington, D.C. — and its public schools have no heating. (Go to a classroom when it’s cold, and you’ll see 40 children, all in their winter jackets, their breath forming clouds in the air.) Beijing is more like Boston. On winter nights, thousands of people mass along the curbsides of major thoroughfares, enduring long waits and fighting their way onto hopelessly overcrowded public buses that then spend hours stuck on jammed roads. And these are the showcase cities! In rural Gansu province, I have seen schools where 18 junior-high-school girls share a single dormitory room, sleeping shoulder to shoulder, sardine-style.
Better schools, more-abundant parks, better health care, cleaner air and water, better sewers in the cities—you name it, and if it isn’t in some way connected to the factory-export economy, China hasn’t got it, or not enough. This is true at the personal level, too. The average cash income for workers in a big factory is about $160 per month. On the farm, it’s a small fraction of that. Most people in China feel they are moving up, but from a very low starting point.
So why is China shipping its money to America? An economist would describe the oddity by saying that China has by far the highest national savings in the world. This sounds admirable, but when taken to an extreme — as in China — it indicates an economy out of sync with the rest of the world, and one that is deliberately keeping its own people’s living standards lower than they could be... China’s savings rate is a staggering 50 percent, which is probably unprecedented in any country in peacetime. This doesn’t mean that the average family is saving half of its earnings — though the personal savings rate in China is also very high. Much of China’s national income is “saved” almost invisibly and kept in the form of foreign assets. Until now, most Chinese have willingly put up with this, because the economy has been growing so fast that even a suppressed level of consumption makes most people richer year by year.
But saying that China has a high savings rate describes the situation without explaining it. Why should the Communist Party of China countenance a policy that takes so much wealth from the world’s poor, in their own country, and gives it to the United States? To add to the mystery, why should China be content to put so many of its holdings into dollars, knowing that the dollar is virtually guaranteed to keep losing value against the RMB? And how long can its people tolerate being denied so much of their earnings, when they and their country need so much? The Chinese government did not explicitly set out to tighten the belt on its population while offering cheap money to American homeowners. But the fact that it does results directly from explicit choices it has made — two in particular. Both arise from crucial controls the government maintains over an economy that in many other ways has become wide open. The situation may be easiest to explain by following a U.S. dollar on its journey from a customer’s hand in America to a factory in China and back again to the T-note auction in the United States.
Let’s say you buy an Oral-B electric toothbrush for $30 at a CVS in the United States. I choose this example because I’ve seen a factory in China that probably made the toothbrush. Most of that $30 stays in America, with CVS, the distributors, and Oral-B itself. Eventually $3 or so — an average percentage for small consumer goods — makes its way back to southern China.
When the factory originally placed its bid for Oral-B’s business, it stated the price in dollars: X million toothbrushes for Y dollars each. But the Chinese manufacturer can’t use the dollars directly. It needs RMB — to pay the workers their 1,200-RMB monthly salary, to buy supplies from other factories in China, to pay its taxes. So it takes the dollars to the local commercial bank — let’s say the Shenzhen Development Bank. After showing receipts or waybills to prove that it earned the dollars in genuine trade, not as speculative inflow, the factory trades them for RMB.
This is where the first controls kick in. In other major countries, the counterparts to the Shenzhen Development Bank can decide for themselves what to do with the dollars they take in. Trade them for euros or yen on the foreign-exchange market? Invest them directly in America? Issue dollar loans? Whatever they think will bring the highest return. But under China’s “surrender requirements,” Chinese banks can’t do those things. They must treat the dollars, in effect, as contraband, and turn most or all of them (instructions vary from time to time) over to China’s equivalent of the Federal Reserve Bank, the People’s Bank of China, for RMB at whatever is the official rate of exchange.
With thousands of transactions per day, the dollars pile up like crazy at the PBOC. More precisely, by more than a billion dollars per day. They pile up even faster than the trade surplus with America would indicate, because customers in many other countries settle their accounts in dollars, too.
The PBOC must do something with that money, and current Chinese doctrine allows it only one option: to give the dollars to another arm of the central government, the State Administration for Foreign Exchange. It is then SAFE’s job to figure out where to park the dollars for the best return: so much in U.S. stocks, so much shifted to euros, and the great majority left in the boring safety of U.S. Treasury notes.
And thus our dollar comes back home. Spent at CVS, passed to Oral-B, paid to the factory in southern China, traded for RMB at the Shenzhen bank, “surrendered” to the PBOC, passed to SAFE for investment, and then bid at auction for Treasury notes, it is ready to be reinjected into the U.S. money supply and spent again — ideally on Chinese-made goods.
At no point did an ordinary Chinese person decide to send so much money to America. In fact, at no point was most of this money at his or her disposal at all. These are in effect enforced savings, which are the result of the two huge and fundamental choices made by the central government.
One is to dictate the RMB’s value relative to other currencies, rather than allow it to be set by forces of supply and demand, as are the values of the dollar, euro, pound, etc. The obvious reason for doing this is to keep Chinese-made products cheap, so Chinese factories will stay busy. This is what Americans have in mind when they complain that the Chinese government is rigging the world currency markets. And there are numerous less obvious reasons. The very act of managing a currency’s value may be a more important distorting factor than the exact rate at which it is set. As for the rate — the subject of much U.S. lecturing — given the huge difference in living standards between China and the United States, even a big rise in the RMB’s value would leave China with a price advantage over manufacturers elsewhere. (If the RMB doubled against the dollar, a factory worker might go from earning $160 per month to $320 — not enough to send many jobs back to America, though enough to hurt China’s export economy.) Once a government decides to thwart the market-driven exchange rate of its currency, it must control countless other aspects of its financial system, through instruments like surrender requirements and the equally ominous-sounding “sterilization bonds” (a way of keeping foreign-currency swaps from creating inflation, as they otherwise could).
These and similar tools are the way China’s government imposes an unbelievably high savings rate on its people. The result, while very complicated, is to keep the buying power earned through China’s exports out of the hands of Chinese consumers as a whole. Individual Chinese people have certainly gotten their hands on a lot of buying power, notably the billionaire entrepreneurs who have attracted the world’s attention. But when it comes to amassing international reserves, what matters is that China as a whole spends so little of what it earns, even as some Chinese people spend a lot.
The other major decision is not to use more money to address China’s needs directly — by building schools and agricultural research labs, cleaning up toxic waste, what have you. Both decisions stem from the central government’s vision of what is necessary to keep China on its unprecedented path of growth. The government doesn’t want to let the market set the value of the RMB, because it thinks that would disrupt the constant growth and the course it has carefully and expensively set for the factory-export economy. In the short run, it worries that the RMB’s value against the dollar and the euro would soar, pricing some factories in “expensive” places such as Shanghai out of business. In the long run, it views an unstable currency as a nuisance in itself, since currency fluctuation makes everything about business with the outside world more complicated. Companies have a harder time predicting overseas revenues, negotiating contracts, luring foreign investors, or predicting the costs of fuel, component parts, and other imported goods...
This is the bargain China has made — rather, the one its leaders have imposed on its people...
For many years the foreign population of China was composed exclusively of men. While the Son of Heaven allowed the male barbarians to live in their factories in Canton under certain conditions, the females of the species were rigorously barred from setting foot on the soil of China, as they were later from residence in Japan. To the Oriental mind the Western woman, and especially the American and the English woman, was always an unmitigated nuisance.
Their prominent eyes, their hilly contours and their comic blond hair made them hideous sights to contemplate, while their brazen manners suggested associations it is just as well not to discuss. It was certain that no good would come of allowing them to live in China and there might be unpleasant consequences. If the British and American sailors fought over the flower-boat girls on the Canton water front what might be expected if the hussies of their own nationalities were allowed to come in?
The Chinese government took no chances and rigidly excluded them. It was in fact impossible for the Chinese to understand why women should want to come to China. It was to them unthinkable that women should travel to strange and distant places. Chinese women always remained at home. An official might be sent to some distant post where he remained for years but his wife never went with him. Not many foreigners were affected by the prohibition against the residence of women. Most of the early traders were bachelors. The few married men left their families in the Portuguese colony of Macao where all the foreigners lived in the between seasons period when the last ships had departed with their cargo of tea.
There was in fact no great outcry over this prohibition, which ensured a comfortable bachelor society free from feminine intrusion. One Englishman, after a married experience of a few years, found the restriction against female residence in Canton an opportunity for escape from his nagging spouse. This was George Chinnery, the famous painter, who went to live in Canton solely because his wife could not follow him there. He was one of a dozen or more famous men who were buried in the little foreign cemetery in Macao located near the grotto where Camoens, the exiled Portuguese poet wrote his great “The Lusiad.” Like most of the other old foreign cemeteries in China there are few gravestones bearing the names of women.
The right of foreign women to live in China was one of the privileges accorded by the treaties which opened the ports to the trade of foreigners. The restriction was not lifted at the insistence of the foreign traders but at that of the Protestant missionaries and the first foreign women to live in China were missionaries or the wives of missionaries. The traders lived in the ports where they organized clubs and bachelor messes and enjoyed life as best they could. Most of the missionaries established themselves in the interior and while the Catholic priests were voluntary bachelors the Protestant missionaries appeared to have a peculiar dread of that state for practically all of them married.
Only young unmarried men were employed by the big companies and they did not marry until after several years’ residence in China. Bachelors were always in the majority. Even after a great many women came to China, the predominant influence of the bachelor remained and foreign society in China still retains a robust and boisterous masculine flavor. The clubs were all men’s clubs and most of them contained rules rigorously barring all women except on an annual ladies’ night.
Everything was run by the men and for the men. If a man doesn’t have an opportunity to attend a stag dinner at least once a month he thinks there must be something wrong. The first foreign dishes provided by Chinese cooks were the result of painstaking teaching by bachelors who had no technical equipment beyond the possession of a cookbook and memories of their mothers’ kitchens. They didn’t bother much about salads. Women now make out the menus but they are confined within the scope of the cook’s capabilities with the result that the average China Coast meal caters to male rather than female appetites.
Chinese girls of the better-class families were kept cooped up at home in a harem-like seclusion, and the foreign bachelor rarely caught a glimpse of one. They would not have been very attractive in his eyes, for not until a very recent period did they adopt the styles which make them the charming figures they are today. There were almost insuperable social barriers to prevent the marriage of foreigners and the better-class Chinese, and none of the easily arranged temporary marriages as in Japan. Sailors came into contact with Chinese of a much lower social strata.
There were many marriages of this sort bringing into existence the unfortunate Eurasian. He is neither a Westerner nor an Oriental, is not welcomed by either and is generally looked on as a social outcast, a stigma that he must pass on to his children like a stream of tainted blood. Most of the first generation Eurasians had British fathers, but a considerable number of them were of American parentage.
The bachelor mess was a China Coast institution that has not completely disappeared in spite of the growth of hotels, restaurants, and boardinghouses. Here the bachelors planned their own meals and ordered their own lives undisturbed by the feminine routine of house cleaning. Each was a small residential club to which newcomers were admitted only by the unanimous consent of the members.
In fact some of the boardinghouse keepers followed a procedure of this kind and did not take new paying guests until the older boarders had been sounded out. Whether in a club or boardinghouse, life on the China Coast was too intimate to take chances on one potential troublemaker. One of the aristocratic establishments would not take boarders who were connected with the retail trade.
Many of the messes were maintained by employees of the same hong. In the early days in Canton all the companies maintained quarters for staff members and some continued this practice after the center of the foreign population moved to Shanghai. One found in them an atmosphere much like that of a Greek-letter fraternity house but without the restraints of campus discipline. They were inclined to be rowdy. I knew one mess where almost every Sunday morning the cocktail shaker was buried as an implement for which the messmates had no further use, but someone always dug it up again.
Some of the most famous messes in Shanghai were those of the volunteer fire companies which for more than half a century provided the only protection against the constant threat of fires. The taxpayers who had already paid the premiums on their insurance policies objected to the expense of a municipal enterprise which would be of more direct benefit to the insurance companies than to anyone else, and year after year refused to appropriate any money for the maintenance of a fire department maintaining that as losses had to be paid by the insurance companies it was the sole responsibility of the companies to prevent losses.
Young men employed by firms which held insurance agencies organized fire companies, and the insurance companies contributed a small percentage of their annual premium collections toward the purchase of equipment. For some years after the taxpayers assumed the expense of maintaining a fire department all of the work was done by unpaid volunteers. The fire companies were such jolly organizations and the young men had so much fun fighting fires that many wanted to join and candidates were looked over as carefully as if they were applying for membership in some exclusive club.
The fire company messes were comfortably furnished, though often with a miscellaneous collection of silverware, china and linen in which there were few pieces of the same pattern. The volunteers always brought back souvenirs of every fire they attended but only articles which could be used in the mess. I often ate dinner at one of these messes; and once just as the soup was served a bell rang and I found myself all alone for my hosts were on their way to a fire. As they slid down the pole to the ground floor one of them called out:
“Don’t forget we need two soup spoons.”
The boys frequently ruined their clothing at a fire and no one objected to this collection of souvenirs which would have been destroyed except for their efforts. Occasionally a local resident would retrieve some treasured heirloom, giving in exchange something of greater value.
After fire-fighting became professional nearly every bachelor served for a time either in the Shanghai Volunteer Corps or in the special police. The volunteer corps is really a little standing army of about 2,000 men which has been referred to as the most complete and efficient small army in the world. Its members do not play at soldiering for during the past decade all of them have been on duty for weeks at a time. I was a member of the special police for three years, was, if I may be allowed to say so, in command of a squad. We patrolled beats, enforced curfew regulations and made searches for arms. In times of trouble we were sometimes on duty, or on call, twenty-four hours a day. Men have been wounded and killed in both branches of the service.
Two of the most famous bachelor establishments in Shanghai were run by veteran employees of the Standard Oil Company who are now retired. No one ever refused a dinner party invitation by Hash or Sam for he was sure to get a meal that he would remember for a long time. There was a good deal of friendly rivalry between them as to who set the best table and had the best-stocked wine cellar, a rivalry which their friends did nothing to discourage for it meant better dinners and more invitations. The rivalry finally reached a point where some one suggested a trial by jury — a jury of stag dinner guests - who would eat meals prepared by the two cooks and render a decision. Sam was to serve one dinner and Hash was to be the host a week later.
At the conclusion of Sam’s dinner someone rushed out to the kitchen and dragged in the unwilling cook to receive our congratulations on what had been a genuinely marvelous meal.
“That’s my cook,” shouted Hash.
“What nonsense! He is my cook,” said Sam.
Each was right for the same cook had been on two payrolls for years. As neither would consent to give him up this joint arrangement was continued until the two bachelors retired and went to live in America. As he had successfully served two masters for years he was given retirement pay by each and at the time of the Japanese invasion was spending his old age in comfort. The hospitality of the two bachelors continues for every now and then the old cook prepares a gorgeous meal and sends out invitations to his masters’ old friends. The guests have to make a three hours’ journey to his ancestral village to attend the dinner party but it is well worth it.
With so many unattached bachelors every city on the China Coast became a place of great romantic possibilities for girls who came out as tourists or visitors or in search of a job. I don’t know what the steamship companies did to adjust matters but a great many girls who came to the China Coast with return-trip tickets couldn’t possibly use them until their validity had expired and then only under the new names they had acquired by marriage. Moonlight walks on the deck of a steamer, the intimacy imposed by strange surroundings and the glamour of the Orient doubtless have something to do with it. There is also the unromantic law of supply and demand. There are many marriageable bachelors and few marriageable girls. If brides had a money value it would be very high on the China Coast.
Every year a great many American girls come to Shanghai in search of employment as trained nurses or stenographers or beauticians. Whether or not they will get on a pay roll is always problematical but it is a safe bet that if they stay around long enough they will have plenty of opportunities to marry. Of the many girl reporters who have from time to time worked on Shanghai papers over a period of more than twenty-five years I can recall only one who did not find a husband there. A great many of the marriage ceremonies were performed by Judge Purdy of the United States Court who took great pride in the fact that no couple he had married was ever divorced. As all the divorce proceedings would come before his court it was easy for him to maintain this record. In fact a Purdy marriage was looked on as being indissoluble — unless one of the parties could get into another jurisdiction.
The new employees of the big companies were limited to bachelors and in most cases their contracts provided that they could not marry except after attaining a certain age and earning capacity — and then only with the consent of the taipan. The lovesick swain had to gain the consent of the girl, the approval of her parents, and then lay his heart open to the scrutiny of a possibly liverish and unsentimental boss. If the latter had the interests of his company at heart he could not overlook the fact that it cost twice as much to pay home passage for a couple as for a single man, to say nothing of the growing transportation costs for the children which the future might bring. The course of true love rarely faced greater impediments.
Even after all these hurdles had been surmounted there were other impediments to keep the ratio of foreign population in China predominantly male. The girl was usually in America or England and unless the pair was willing to wait until the next home-leave period the girl would have to come to the Far East to be married. This brought up a question of etiquette which I do not believe is covered in Miss Post’s invaluable work. Should the prospective husband pay the carriage charges or should the parents undertake this expense and the groom take delivery of the cargo c.i.f.c. (cost, insurance, freight and customs).
If the responsibility fell on the groom-to-be, what sort of accommodations would she demand? Would she be content to travel like ordinary passengers or would she be likely to arrive in a bad humor because two other women had been put in the same cabin with her and she hadn’t been invited to sit at the captain’s table? If he had made more than one Pacific crossing the young man knew that this was not at all improbable for ocean travel does something to women’s tempers.
But the most serious hurdle he faced was one which the lonely and enamored bachelor would never suspect — one that I would have thought possible only in a fiction story unless I had known personally of so many instances, a few of them affecting my friends. Since these little personal tragedies, which only become doubtfully humorous with the passage of years, are motivated by feminine fickleness, let’s start with the psychological analysis of the girl at home who is coming out to get married. She is usually taking her first ocean journey and for the first time is completely independent.
There is the dangerous hiatus between transplanting from one family to another, from the duties of a daughter to the responsibilities of a wife. The old life is on one side of the world’s broadest ocean, the new life on the other side and the conventions of neither obtain on board a ship. The old social restraints are absent in form and strange new scenes make them dim in memory. The Chinese social system would never allow a poor weak female to be faced with a situation like this. When the Chinese bride-to-be leaves her ancestral home she is locked in a curtained chair and the key is carried posthaste to the home of the prospective bridegroom who alone can release the imprisoned girl. If the steamship companies could do something like this they would be performing a very useful service.
The fact that she is going to China to be married naturally singles the girl out for the attentions of all the young men on board. A mild flirtation seems to her to be the most harmless thing in the world. She will be married in a month and will probably never see this nice young man who is going out to Zamboanga. It will be the last chance and there are plenty of opportunities in strolls about the deck or in the gay cocktail parties which usually mark transpacific voyages. She is devotedly in love with John, but she hasn’t seen John for a long time, is lonely for him.
What more natural than that she should visualize John in the person of the handsome young man who is at her elbow. He soon appears to possess all the remembered charms of John plus his own and becomes a more desirable mate. So far as he is concerned the old caveman instinct to steal some other man’s woman asserts itself. Too often the bride who was traveling to marry John in Shanghai married shipmate Bill in Yokohama and wrote John a letter. I don’t know whether or not the psychologists have a name for it, but they should.
It finally became the custom for the young-men from the China Coast to meet their sweethearts in Yokohama. No one of them ever thought his girl would run out on him like that but as soon as his friends heard of the prospective marriage, they would begin pointing out to him the advantages of a wedding in Japan. No one ever mentioned the real reason but there were specious arguments presented in an attempt to protect the love¬sick swain from female fickleness.
After a long and lonely sea trip it would be unfair to make the girl wait four or five days longer before seeing him. He could show her the sights of Japan, protect her against the probable rudeness of Japanese policemen. By bringing her to Shanghai as his wife instead of a lone and inexperienced traveler he could relieve her of the bother of passing the customs examinations and dealing with the wharf coolies. By these and other crafty arguments in which the real reason was never hinted at they usually managed to convince the prospective husband that he would be lacking in all sense of decency if he did not arrange for the marriage to be performed in Kobe or Yokohama, and this finally became the social custom.
It did not entirely put a stop to the pilfering of brides. Many a girl whose heart should have been near the bursting point with happiness at first sight of her beloved felt herself sink into the depths of despair as she saw him from the rail of her steamer. He did look funny in his China-made clothes and that hat he was wearing was out of fashion two years ago. Could it be possible that he had put on a little weight? Were those pouches under his eyes natural? Were they there before? Or had John forgotten his promise to cut his drinking down to reasonable proportions? Oh, well, it’s too late now and she had to say farewell to her charming shipmate. Sometimes the ship romance had gone too far and John met his girl only to learn that she had changed her mind.
There is one classic and unexaggerated story of the curdled romance of a young American who was proprietor of his own business in Moukden. He had left a girl behind him in Iowa and the only hindrance to their marriage lay in the difficulty he had in saving enough money to set up a housekeeping establishment and meet the rather heavy cost of transportation. Finally his savings were augmented by drawing a lucky number in a sweepstake and he joyfully mailed a draft with a detailed letter of instructions. He had reserved passage on a specified steamer from Seattle and he would meet the steamer in Yokohama where they would be married and spend their honeymoon on the beautiful Inland Sea of Japan. As the steamer schedule did not allow time for any further correspondence, she was to cable him a single code word which would mean that she had received the letter and would be on the boat.
John received the cable and was in Yokohama for the arrival of the boat but there was no Mary among the passengers who crowded the rail. Her name was not on the passenger list and she sent him no message. Full of anxiety he sent her a cable and in reply received a message:
“Letter in Moukden.”
The letter didn’t arrive until several weeks later and read as follows:
Dear John:I know you are going to he very disappointed and may be angry with me, but it can’t be helped. I did intend to marry you like I said I would, but it was a long time ago and I never knew for sure whether you were going to be able to save up the money or not. After you went back to China the last time I began going with Sam and he wanted me to marry him and I told him I wouldn’t but he kept asking me just the same and was jealous every time I got a letter from you.
When your letter came with the money in it and I sent you the message I told him about it and he felt awful bad. He said he didn’t have nothing more to live for and talked about committing suicide. I felt very sorry for him.
Then he told me what a terrible place China was to live in and how the Chinese eat rats and kill all their girl babies and a lot of other things you never told me about. He said I would be lonesome there because I wouldn’t know anyone but you, and I guess I would of been but I hadn’t thought of it before. We’ve got the dandiest crowd here now and the boys have organized a string quartette and we have a dance at the Odd Fellows Hall every other Saturday night. The boys pay the rent for the hall and the girls bring the supper. It’s lots of fun - more fun than when you were here because the boys hadn’t started their orchestra.
Well, Sam and I talked it over a long time. I said I was sorry for you and he said I shouldn’t be because you very probably had a Chinese girl, which I hadn’t suspected you of after all the things you wrote me about how funny looking the Chinese girls are. I saw one of them in Des Moines, and how any white man would have anything to do with them I can’t understand.
Sam said you had given me the money to do what I liked with and that if I would marry him he would pay it back to you so that you would have some money coming to you that you didn’t expect. So that is what we did and Sam will begin paying the money back after the first of the year. There wasn’t quite enough to pay on the rugs and the refrigerator. Sam says we ought to be awful grateful to you, and we are.
Yours very sincerely,Mary (Mrs. Samuel H. Jones.)
The last time I saw John in Moukden he was still a bachelor and the framed letter occupied a prominent position over his cocktail bar.
In 1972 "eye protection exercises" (眼保健操) were introduced to schools across the entire nation to combat the mounting rate of myopia. The exercises comprise a set of massage moves supposedly based on the Chinese traditional medicine theory of 'channels', the same basis for acupuncture and reflexology. If you believe the theory, pressing the right channels with your fingers alleviates eye strains and prevents short-sightedness.
Today's The Beijing News printed a big photo showing pupils in Xisi North Fourth Alley Elementary school showcasing the moves of a modified set of "eye protection exercises" that is on trial in Beijing before rolling out to other provinces.
According to the newspaper article, a very important standard to evaluate the teacher's work is the rate at which their students are found to develop short-sightedness. Which may explain why the teachers are keeping a very close eye on their pupils to make sure that they do the "eye exercises" properly.
One teacher was quoted as saying that "most moves can be seen and monitored, but the "grab the land with your toes" section can not be seen, so you have no way to know if they are really doing it." The "grab the land" moves are done with the feet.
In each class, a model student was assigned to demonstrate the right moves to the rest of the students, while teachers corrected the students who could not do it in the right way. But sometimes, even the teachers got confused. "I am not very sure about the exact location of the Fengchi channel (风池穴)" said one teacher. Despite the videos and graphic guidance they have, the teacher hoped she could get more specific instructions.
For many people, the "eye exercises" are a nostalgic memory of school days, but they are attacked by skeptics as nothing but pseudoscience.
The most prominent among them, FANG ZHOUZI, is a science activist who made his reputation for exposing academic fraud and corruption. Fang has argued that there is no clinical or statistical evidence showing that the "eye exercises" have any effect on reducing myopia rates. Instead, they increase the chance of eye infection. Critics also charge that the Ministry of Education are making a profit from frequently modifying the moves of the "exercises" and forcing schools to buy tapes and video disks of the new versions.
PARIS, France (CNN) -- The leaders of 15 European nations agreed on Sunday to shore up troubled banks as part of a broad plan to ease the global financial crisis.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the plan would refinance banks, guarantee interbank lending and ensure that troubled banks do not fail. It also will protect individual depositors' accounts and ease some regulations to give banks more flexibility.
The refinancing of the banks and the guaranteeing of interbank loans are good until the end of 2009.
"What we want is to give back banks the means to lend, to support the economy to enable households to borrow for mortgages or consumption and give companies the means necessary to invest for growth," Sarkozy said. "We cannot have a healthy economy and sustainable growth unless we have a solid financial sector."
Sarkozy announced the agreement after a meeting of leaders of the Eurozone countries, which use the euro currency. Sarkozy also holds the rotating European Union presidency.
European officials say the plan is not a gift to bank management and that managers, who contributed to the crisis should be held responsible. The refinancing will be made at market rates and will consider the financial health of the banks.
Each country will take slightly different approaches, because they have different laws and banking regulations, but their actions will be compatible.
"We have a tool kit and we will see what suits whom in order to achieve what we are setting out to achieve, which is to make sure that we don't have an economic crisis in addition to the financial crisis. We need to get things moving again, shifting again. And when things have calmed down, we'll go back to our basic training and responsibilities," Sarkozy said.
The leaders wanted to work quickly to reassure investors before the markets open on Monday.
Sarkozy said France, Germany and Italy will hold Cabinet meetings on Monday and will announce concrete plans.
"These measures will be implemented in France without delay," Sarkozy said.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown met with Sarkozy and other leaders before the summit and told reporters there was "common ground now about what needs to be done" to soothe the financial markets.
On Wednesday, officials from the Eurozone countries will present their plan to the rest of the European Union at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Sarkozy said that they would then urge the United States to hold an international summit to manage the crisis."The crisis didn't come from Europe. It began in the U.S. It has now become a worldwide crisis, and the issue of European structural institutions may be put on the table at some stage, but right now, we're dealing an emergency. And we have to reform urgently an international financial system that needs to be reformed,"he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- World leaders, warning of a global economic downturn, pledged Saturday to work together to find solutions to what is unfolding as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
U.S. President George W. Bush and finance officials from the Group of Seven, Group of 20 and the International Monetary Fund -- gathering in the nation's capital -- vowed vigilance in helping economies around the world on the road to recovery.
Concerns about the solvency of banks and financial institutions in recent weeks "had pushed the global financial system to the brink of systemic meltdown," said Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF managing director.
Strauss-Kahn said steps taken so far by the United States and European nations hadn't been fully effective and that more would be necessary in "the coming months."
For his part, Bush did not announce any new actions to stem the financial panic gripping the world, but reiterated measures world leaders are taking to strengthen financial systems.
"We recognize that the turmoil in the financial markets is affecting all our citizens," Bush said early Saturday morning. "All of us recognize this is a serious global crisis that requires a serious global response for the good of our people."
Both Bush and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson spoke about the latest step being contemplated by the United States -- injecting much-needed capital into banks.
"In recent weeks, financial market turmoil intensified throughout the world and credit markets froze, causing a chain reaction resulting in non-financial companies experiencing difficulty in financing normal business operations," Paulson told an IMF meeting.
The Bush administration is considering whether to use the authority granted in the $700 billion rescue plan enacted on Oct. 3 to take ownership stakes in financial institutions to stabilize and restore confidence in them.
Other countries are also taking action to inject liquidity, protect citizens' savings and strengthen financial institutions in their own nations, he said.
Finance leaders from the world's top economies, the Group of Seven, pledged Friday night to take steps to keep leading institutions afloat, unfreeze credit, and ensure banks have enough capital to kick start lending and safeguard depositors' funds and restart the secondary markets for mortgages and other securitized assets.
Bush said that it is vital that countries work together so that their actions don't undermine others. He pointed to the emergency interest rate cut enacted this week as an example of a coordinated effort.
He plans to expand discussions beyond the G-7 ministers -- representing the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan -- to the leaders of the G-20 emerging market and industrialized nations.
"We're in this together, we'll come through this together," the president said.
But Bush warned that it will take time to see the results. So far, all the measures world leaders have taken have done little to calm jittery markets.
"The benefits will not be realized overnight," he said.
Bush made a surprise visit Saturday at a G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers.
Officials of the G-20 issued a statement late Saturday saying that the "global implications" of the crisis required international cooperation.
The G-20 is made up of rich and emerging nations that produce 90 percent of the world's economic output. The meeting in Washington came at Paulson's request. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was also in attendance.
IMF backs G-7 commitment
The IMF endorsed the G7's commitment to do everything possible to jumpstart the world's economies.
The IMF's Monetary and Finance Committee said in a statement that it "recognizes that the depth and systemic nature of the crisis call for exceptional vigilance, coordination, and readiness to take bold action."
Strauss-Kahn, of the IMF, said the downturn could be worse than anticipated.
"The world economy is now entering a major slowdown as a result of the most severe shock to mature financial markets since the 1930s, adding to pressure on global economies from high prices for oil and other commodities," Strauss-Kahn said.
The International Monetary and Finance Committee -- the steering arm of the IMF-- began its 18th fall meeting Saturday. The 185-nation IMF was created in 1945 to coordinate international financial stability efforts, aiming to avoid financial collapses.
The World Bank, which is a similar organization with a slightly different mandate, also started its fall meeting Saturday. It focuses on longer-term aid for troubled countries, investing in such things as infrastructure development.
Week of fear
The meetings in Washington cap a week in which fear gripped financial markets worldwide. The Dow Jones industrial average had its worst week ever, falling just over 1,874 points, or 18 percent. Wall Street lost roughly $2.4 trillion in market value during the week, according to losses in the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000, the broadest measure of the market.
Since the mid-September collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked the latest chaos in the financial markets, Bush has repeatedly tried to reassure the Americans.
"We can solve this crisis -- and we will," said Bush, in a speech at the White House Friday, his 27th commentary on the nation's financial health.
"Here's what the American people need to know: The U.S. government is acting, and we will continue to act, to resolve this crisis and return stability to our markets," he said.
The government has started taking a number of steps to attack the crisis, Bush said Friday. These include helping homeowners to refinance into more affordable mortgages; cutting the target for the federal funds rate; unveiling a plan to support the market for commercial paper; and offering government insurance for money market mutual funds.The plan will authorize the Treasury to buy bad mortgage-related investments from finance companies, unfreezing the credit markets by freeing up banks and finance firms to lend once again.
"The world changed today. What I say or do is very minor compared to the significance of what happened to our country today when it was attacked." So said Expedition 3 Commander Frank L. Culbertson, upon learning of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.
This image is one of a series taken that day of metropolitan New York City by the International Space Station's Expedition 3 crew that shows a plume of smoke rising from the Manhattan skyline.
Upon further reflection, Commander Culbertson said, "It's horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are."