Monthly Archives: 十二月 2015

The Best Books I Read in 2015

By Bill Gates 

I just looked over the list of books I read this year, and I noticed a pattern. A lot of them touch on a theme that I would call “how things work.” Some explain something about the physical world, like how steel and glass are used, or what it takes to get rid of deadly diseases. Others offer deep insights into human beings: our strengths and flaws, our capacity for lifelong growth, or the things we value. I didn’t set out to explore these themes intentionally, though in retrospect it make a lot of sense since the main reason I read is to learn.

Below the video are short reviews of some of the best books I read in 2015, in no particular order, with links to longer write-ups. As usual with my year-end lists (see 2013 and 2014), not all the books came out this year. I hope you find something to your liking. And feel free to share your own favorites in the comments section below.

The Road to Character, by David Brooks. The insightful New York Times columnist examines the contrasting values that motivate all of us. He argues that American society does a good job of cultivating the “résumé virtues” (the traits that lead to external success) but not our “eulogy virtues” (the traits that lead to internal peace of mind). Brooks profiles various historical figures who were paragons of character. I thought his portrait of World War II General George Marshall was especially enlightening. Even if the distinction between the two types of virtues is not always crystal clear, The Road to Character gave me a lot to think about. It is a thought-provoking look at what it means to live life well.

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, by Randall Munroe. The brain behind XKCD explains various subjects—from how smartphones work to what the U.S. Constitution says—using only the 1,000 most common words in the English language and blueprint-style diagrams. It is a brilliant concept, because if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t really understand it. Munroe, who worked on robotics at NASA, is an ideal person to take it on. The book is filled with helpful explanations and drawings of everything from a dishwasher to a nuclear power plant. And Munroe’s jokes are laugh-out-loud funny. This is a wonderful guide for curious minds.

Being Nixon: A Man Divided, by Evan Thomas. Former U.S. president Richard Nixon is often portrayed as little more than a crook and a war monger. So it was refreshing to see a more balanced account in Being Nixon, by author and journalist Evan Thomas. I wouldn’t call it a sympathetic portrait—in many ways, Nixon was a deeply unsympathetic person—but it is an empathetic one. Rather than just focusing on Nixon’s presidency, Thomas takes a cradle-to-the-grave approach and gives you sharp insights into the inner workings of a brilliant, flawed, and conflicted man.

Sustainable Materials With Both Eyes Open, by Julian M. Allwood, Jonathan M. Cullen, et al. How much can we reduce carbon emissions that come from making and using stuff? Quite a bit, according to the University of Cambridge team behind this book. They look closely at the materials that humans use most, with particular emphasis on steel and aluminum, and show how we could cut emissions by up to 50 percent without asking people to make big sacrifices. Although the topic can be dry as a desert, the authors keep it light with lots of colorful illustrations and clever analogies without sacrificing clarity or rigor. I learned a lot from this thoughtful look at a critical topic. (You can download it free on the authors’ site.)

Eradication: Ridding the World of Diseases Forever?, by Nancy Leys Stepan. Stepan’s history of eradication efforts gives you a good sense of how involved the work can get, how many different kinds of approaches have been tried without success, and how much we’ve learned from our failures. She writes in a fairly academic style that may make it hard for non-experts to get to her valuable arguments, but it’s worth the effort. You come away from it with a clearer sense of how we can use the lessons of the past to guide future efforts to save lives.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck. This book first came to my attention a few years ago during an invention session on education with my friend Nathan Myrhvold. It’s been an important influence on the foundation’s education work. Through clever research studies and engaging writing, Dweck illuminates how our beliefs about our capabilities exert tremendous influence on how we learn and which paths we take in life. The value of this book extends way beyond the world of education. It’s just as relevant for businesspeople who want to cultivate talent and for parents who want to raise their kids to thrive on challenge.

Honorable mention: I read one book this year that definitely deserves a spot on this list, but I haven’t had time to give it the full write-up it deserves. The Vital Question, by Nick Lane, is an amazing inquiry into the origins of life. I loved it so much that I immediately bought all of Lane’s other books. And I jumped at the chance to meet Lane and talk to him about his research last September, when both of us were in New York City. I’ll post more about his fascinating work when I get the chance.

Source: http://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Best-Books-2015

China’s President Calls For More Borders, State Control in Cyberspace

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Xi Jinping gives a speech at the Internet conference in Wuzhen, China, Dec. 16, 2015. AFP

Chinese Internet users on Wednesday hit out at a “global” Internet conference hosted by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, as their president Xi Jinping called for more control by governments over cyberspace. Continue reading

China Has Record Number of Journalists Behind Bars: Report

newsstand-Beijing

A man reads a magazine beside a newsstand in Beijing in a file photo. AFP

China jailed or detained a record number of journalists in 2015, more than any other country, and now holds a quarter of all journalists behind bars globally, a U.S.-based press freedom group said in a report. Continue reading

Chinese Police Ban Anti-Torture Conference by Rights Lawyers

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Rights lawyers like Pu Zhiqiang (front right, in May 3, 2014 photo) are an endangered species in China. Photo courtesy of China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).

Several dozen prominent rights lawyers and activists have canceled a conference on the prevention of torture in the southwestern Chinese region of Guangxi after police intervention and surveillance, participants told RFA on Friday. Continue reading

China: Free Prominent Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang

Persecution of Outspoken Lawyers Mocks ‘Rule of Law’ Claims
Pu Zhiqiang2

Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang talks to media in Beijing in this July 20, 2012 picture. © 2012 Reuters

(New York) – Chinese authorities should drop all charges against prominent rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and free him immediately. Pu is on trial before the Beijing Number 2 Intermediate People’s Court for alleged crimes of “inciting ethnic hatred” and “creating a disturbance” for seven microblog, or “Weibo,” posts that he published online between July 2011 and May 2014. Continue reading

China: Trial of lawyer Pu Zhiqiang an act of political persecution

11 December 2015, 19:16 UTC

  •          Delayed trial of renowned human rights lawyer due to start on Monday
  •          Amnesty International’s human rights experts on China available for interview

The Chinese authorities must end their persecution of prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, Amnesty International said, ahead of his trial which is set to begin on Monday in Beijing.
Continue reading

Pu Zhiqiang’s Indictment and the Seven Incriminating Weibo Posts

Number Two Branch of Beijing People’s Procuratorate Bill of Indictment

BJ 2d Br Proc Crim Indict (2015) No. 48

Bill of Indictment-PZQ1Defendant Pu Zhiqiang, male, born January 17, 1965, identification number [redacted], Han ethnicity, from Hebei Province, master’s degree education, is a lawyer at the Beijing Huayi Law Firm and resides at [redacted] in Beijing. Placed under criminal detention by the Haidian Precinct of the Beijing Public Security Bureau on May 6, 2014, under suspicion of provoking a serious disturbance. With the approval of this procuratorate, arrested by the Beijing Public Security Bureau on June 13, 2014, under suspicion of illegally obtaining citizens’ personal information and provoking a serious disturbance. Continue reading

ICPC Statement for International Human Rights Day

Pu Zhiqiang and Abduljalil Al-Singace Honored
Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award
And 27 Writers Adopted as Honorary Members
(10 December 2015)

Liu Xiaobo-AwardingToday is the International Human Rights Day as well as the fifth anniversary of Dr. LIU Xiaobo, the former and honorary president of Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), being awarded in absence to the Nobel Peace Prize, while two day earlier it had been seventh years since his detention. For commemoration of these dates, ICPC has honoured Mr. PU Zhiqiang, its honorary member as well as a lawyer and blogger detained in China, and Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, an academic and blogger imprisoned in Bahrain, this year’s Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award for their long-term tenacity and courage in writing and fighting for freedom of expression and other basic rights despite imprisonment. In addition, ICPC have adopted twenty-seven of writers imprisoned in China as its new honorary members, namely FU Zhibin, YU Shiwen, LIU Haitao, DONG Tubin, XIE Wenfei, WANG Mo, SU Changlan (f), LIANG Qinhui, CHEN Yunfei, ZHANG Shenyu, HUANG Jingyi, WU Gan, ZHAO Haitong, WANG Quanzhang, SUI Muqing, XIE Yang, YANG Weidong, XIE Yanyi, WANG Yu (f), LI Heping, LIU Shaoming, SUN Feng, WANG Xiaolu, LIU Sixin, ZHAO Wei (f), LIU Wei and XIN Lijian. Continue reading