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Wednesday, September 19, 2007The Art Of Dieing
A man in southern China appears to have died of exhaustion after a three-day Internet gaming binge, state media said Monday.
The 30-year-old man fainted at a cyber cafe in the city of Guangzhou Saturday afternoon after he had been playing games online for three days, the Beijing News reported.
Paramedics tried to revive him but failed and he was declared dead at the cafe, it said. The paper said that he may have died from exhaustion brought on by too many hours on the Internet.
The report did not say what the man, whose name was not given, was playing.
The report said that about 100 other Web surfers "left the cafe in fear after witnessing the man's death."
China has 140 million Internet users, second only to the U.S.. It is one of the world's biggest markets for online games, with tens of millions of players, many of whom hunker down for hours in front of PCs in public Internet cafes.
Several cities have clinics to treat what psychiatrists have dubbed "Internet addiction" in users, many of them children and teenagers, who play online games or surf the Web for days at a time.
The first virtue is curiosity. A burning itch to know is higher than a solemn vow to pursue truth. To feel the burning itch of curiosity requires both that you be ignorant, and that you desire to relinquish your ignorance. If in your heart you believe you already know, or if in your heart you do not wish to know, then your questioning will be purposeless and your skills without direction. Curiosity seeks to annihilate itself; there is no curiosity that does not want an answer. The glory of glorious mystery is to be solved, after which it ceases to be mystery. Be wary of those who speak of being open-minded and modestly confess their ignorance. There is a time to confess your ignorance and a time to relinquish your ignorance.
The second virtue is relinquishment. P. C. Hodgell said: "That which can be destroyed by the truth should be." Do not flinch from experiences that might destroy your beliefs. The thought you cannot think controls you more than thoughts you speak aloud. Submit yourself to ordeals and test yourself in fire. Relinquish the emotion which rests upon a mistaken belief, and seek to feel fully that emotion which fits the facts. If the iron approaches your face, and you believe it is hot, and it is cool, the Way opposes your fear. If the iron approaches your face, and you believe it is cool, and it is hot, the Way opposes your calm. Evaluate your beliefs first and then arrive at your emotions. Let yourself say: "If the iron is hot, I desire to believe it is hot, and if it is cool, I desire to believe it is cool." Beware lest you become attached to beliefs you may not want.
The third virtue is lightness. Let the winds of evidence blow you about as though you are a leaf, with no direction of your own. Beware lest you fight a rearguard retreat against the evidence, grudgingly conceding each foot of ground only when forced, feeling cheated. Surrender to the truth as quickly as you can. Do this the instant you realize what you are resisting; the instant you can see from which quarter the winds of evidence are blowing against you. Be faithless to your cause and betray it to a stronger enemy. If you regard evidence as a constraint and seek to free yourself, you sell yourself into the chains of your whims. For you cannot make a true map of a city by sitting in your bedroom with your eyes shut and drawing lines upon paper according to impulse. You must walk through the city and draw lines on paper that correspond what you see. If, seeing the city unclearly, you think that you can shift a line just a little to the right, just a little to the left, according to your caprice, this is just the same mistake.
The fourth virtue is evenness. One who wishes to believe says, "Does the evidence permit me to believe?" One who wishes to disbelieve asks, "Does the evidence force me to believe?" Beware lest you place huge burdens of proof only on propositions you dislike, and then defend yourself by saying: "But it is good to be skeptical." If you attend only to favorable evidence, picking and choosing from your gathered data, then the more data you gather, the less you know. If you are selective about which arguments you inspect for flaws, or how hard you inspect for flaws, then every flaw you learn how to detect makes you that much stupider. If you first write at the bottom of a sheet of paper, "And therefore, the sky is green!", it does not matter what arguments you write above it afterward; the conclusion is already written, and it is already correct or already wrong. To be clever in argument is not rationality but rationalization. Intelligence, to be useful, must be used for something other than defeating itself. Listen to hypotheses as they plead their cases before you, but remember that you are not a hypothesis, you are the judge. Therefore do not seek to argue for one side or another, for if you knew your destination, you would already be there.
The fifth virtue is argument. Those who wish to fail must first prevent their friends from helping them. Those who smile wisely and say: "I will not argue," remove themselves from help, and withdraw from the communal effort. In argument strive for exact honesty, for the sake of others and also yourself: The part of yourself that distorts what you say to others also distorts your own thoughts. Do not believe you do others a favor if you accept their arguments; the favor is to you. Do not think that fairness to all sides means balancing yourself evenly between positions; truth is not handed out in equal portions before the start of a debate. You cannot move forward on factual questions by fighting with fists or insults. Seek a test that lets reality judge between you.
In the closing stages of World War II, as Allied and French resistance forces were driving Hitler's now demoralised forces from France, three senior German officers defected.
Legionnaires were recruited from German POW camps
The information they gave British intelligence was considered so sensitive that in 1945 it was locked away, not due to be released until the year 2021.
Now, 17 years early, the BBC's Document programme has been given special access to this secret file.
It reveals how thousands of Indian soldiers who had joined Britain in the fight against fascism swapped their oaths to the British king for others to Adolf Hitler - an astonishing tale of loyalty, despair and betrayal that threatened to rock British rule in India, known as the Raj.
The story the German officers told their interrogators began in Berlin on 3 April 1941. This was the date that the left-wing Indian revolutionary leader, Subhas Chandra Bose, arrived in the German capital.
Bose, who had been arrested 11 times by the British in India, had fled the Raj with one mission in mind. That was to seek Hitler's help in pushing the British out of India.
Six months later, with the help of the German foreign ministry, he had set up what he called "The Free India Centre", from where he published leaflets, wrote speeches and organised broadcasts in support of his cause.
By the end of 1941, Hitler's regime officially recognised his provisional "Free India Government" in exile, and even agreed to help Chandra Bose raise an army to fight for his cause. It was to be called "The Free India Legion".
Bose hoped to raise a force of about 100,000 men which, when armed and kitted out by the Germans, could be used to invade British India.
He decided to raise them by going on recruiting visits to Prisoner-of-War camps in Germany which, at that time, were home to tens of thousands of Indian soldiers captured by Rommel in North Africa.
Finally, by August 1942, Bose's recruitment drive got fully into swing. Mass ceremonies were held in which dozens of Indian POWs joined in mass oaths of allegiance to Adolf Hitler.
Chandra Bose did not live to see Indian independence
These are the words that were used by men that had formally sworn an oath to the British king: "I swear by God this holy oath that I will obey the leader of the German race and state, Adolf Hitler, as the commander of the German armed forces in the fight for India, whose leader is Subhas Chandra Bose."
I managed to track down one of Bose's former recruits, Lieutenant Barwant Singh, who can still remember the Indian revolutionary arriving at his prisoner of war camp.
"He was introduced to us as a leader from our country who wanted to talk to us," he said.
"He wanted 500 volunteers who would be trained in Germany and then parachuted into India. Everyone raised their hands. Thousands of us volunteered."
In all 3,000 Indian prisoners of war signed up for the Free India Legion.
But instead of being delighted, Bose was worried. A left-wing admirer of Russia, he was devastated when Hitler's tanks rolled across the Soviet border.
Matters were made even worse by the fact that after Stalingrad it became clear that the now-retreating German army would be in no position to offer Bose help in driving the British from faraway India.
When the Indian revolutionary met Hitler in May 1942 his suspicions were confirmed, and he came to believe that the Nazi leader was more interested in using his men to win propaganda victories than military ones.
So, in February 1943, Bose turned his back on his legionnaires and slipped secretly away aboard a submarine bound for Japan.
Rudolf Hartog remembers parting with his Indian friends
There, with Japanese help, he was to raise a force of 60,000 men to march on India.
Back in Germany the men he had recruited were left leaderless and demoralised. After much dissent and even a mutiny, the German High Command despatched them first to Holland and then south-west France, where they were told to help fortify the coast for an expected allied landing.
After D-Day, the Free India Legion, which had now been drafted into Himmler's Waffen SS, were in headlong retreat through France, along with regular German units.
It was during this time that they gained a wild and loathsome reputation amongst the civilian population.
The former French Resistance fighter, Henri Gendreaux, remembers the Legion passing through his home town of Ruffec: "I do remember several cases of rape. A lady and her two daughters were raped and in another case they even shot dead a little two-year-old girl."
Finally, instead of driving the British from India, the Free India Legion were themselves driven from France and then Germany.
Their German military translator at the time was Private Rudolf Hartog, who is now 80.
"The last day we were together an armoured tank appeared. I thought, my goodness, what can I do? I'm finished," he said.
"But he only wanted to collect the Indians. We embraced each other and cried. You see that was the end."
A year later the Indian legionnaires were sent back to India, where all were released after short jail sentences.
But when the British put three of their senior officers on trial near Delhi there were mutinies in the army and protests on the streets.
With the British now aware that the Indian army could no longer be relied upon by the Raj to do its bidding, independence followed soon after.
Not that Subhas Chandra Bose was to see the day he had fought so hard for. He died in 1945.
Since then little has been heard of Lieutenant Barwant Singh and his fellow legionnaires.
At the end of the war the BBC was forbidden from broadcasting their story and this remarkable saga was locked away in the archives, until now. Not that Lieutenant Singh has ever forgotten those dramatic days.
"In front of my eyes I can see how we all looked, how we would all sing and how we all talked about what eventually would happen to us all," he said.
Being fluent in two languages may help to keep the brain sharper for longer, a study suggests.
Researchers from York University in Canada carried out tests on 104 people between the ages of 30 and 88.
They found that those who were fluent in two languages rather than just one were sharper mentally.
Writing in the journal of Psychology and Ageing, they said being bilingual may protect against mental decline in old age.
Previous studies have shown that keeping the brain active can protect against senile dementia.
Research has shown that people who play musical instruments, dance or read regularly may be less likely to develop the condition.
Other activities like doing crosswords or playing board games may also help.
This latest study appears to back up the theory that language skills also have a protective effect.
Dr Ellen Bialystok and colleagues at York University assessed the cognitive skills of all those involved in the study using a variety of widely recognised tests.
They tested their vocabulary skills, their non-verbal reasoning ability and their reaction time.
Half of the volunteers came from Canada and spoke only English. The other half came from India and were fluent in both English and Tamil.
The volunteers had similar backgrounds in the sense that they were all educated to degree level and were all middle class.
The researchers found that the people who were fluent in English and Tamil responded faster than those who were fluent in just English. This applied to all age groups.
The researchers also found that the bilingual volunteers were much less likely to suffer from the mental decline associated with old age.
"The bilinguals were more efficient at all ages tested and showed a slower rate of decline for some processes with aging," they said.
"It appears...that bilingualism helps to offset age-related losses."
The UK's Alzheimer's Society welcomed the study.
"These findings, that early development of second language may improve a specific aspect of cognitive function in later life, are very interesting," said Professor Clive Ballard, its director of research.
"It is a possibility that the acquisition of a second language in early childhood may influence the process of the development of neuronal circuits.
"However, the results of this particular study need to be interpreted cautiously as they were comparing groups of individual of different nationalities, educated in different systems.
"It is also well recognised that education in general can bestow benefits on cognitive function in later life."
A land of bus conductors, district nurses and rag-and-bone men is the image of life in the 1950s, to which many want to return, suggests a survey. Was post-war Britain really all good?
We might enjoy cheap flights, e-mail and plasma televisions, but a report by Somerfield says one in four people want to return to the decade of the Suez War and the Coronation.
Bobbies on the beat (80%), district nurses (55%), bus conductors (41%) and rag-and-bone men (20%) were among the features of life those surveyed most wanted to revive or expand.
This has been presented by some dewy-eyed newspapers as evidence that life 50 years ago was better than now. A time of decency and strong community ties, yes, but what aspects of that life were not so appealing?
1. Post-war austerity was characterised by outside lavatories, central heating was rare and many houses were without televisions or running water.
The education system was lauded
2. Racial discrimination was widespread, with signs saying "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish" commonplace. Tensions boiled over with the Notting Hill riots in 1958.
3. Food rations until 1954. Fruit was a luxury, chicken or sweets a rarity. Queues outside butchers lined the streets. Petrol was rationed in 1956-57.
4. Smog, or peasoupers, were thick and yellow, made worse by coal fires. Some have described the fog as a "yellow wall" outside the front door. Parents gave children scarves to wear over their noses and mouths and street lamps were still gas.
5. Britain had to come to terms with being humiliated in the Suez War and its influence on world events being greatly diminished.
6. Bomb sites littered British streets, while air raid shelters, unexploded bombs, gas masks and seaside defences provided a reminder of the horror that had gone before.
Bombed buildings became playgrounds
7. The Cold War intensified throughout the 50s, with tensions illustrated by the Soviet invasion of Hungary and the McCarthy witch hunts in the US.
8. Sporting humiliation arrived when England's football team lost 6-3 to Hungary at Wembley, the first ever defeat to a non-British team at home.
9. Smoking prevalence among UK men aged 35 to 59 was 80% in 1950, and half of deaths of middle-aged men were caused by tobacco.
10. Sexual expression was frowned upon and even criminalised.