1.Thirst grows for living unplugged
More people are taking breaks from the connected life amid the stillness and quiet of retreats like the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, Pennsylvania.
About a year ago, I flew to Singapore to join the writer Malcolm Gladwell, the fashion designer Marc Ecko and the graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister in addressing a group of advertising people on “Marketing to the Child of Tomorrow.” Soon after I arrived, the chief executive of the agency that had invited us took me aside. What he was most interested in, he began, was stillness and quiet.
A few months later, I read an interview with the well-known cutting-edge designer Philippe Starck.
What allowed him to remain so consistently ahead of the curve? “I never read any magazines or watch TV,” he said, perhaps with a little exaggeration. “Nor do I go to cocktail parties, dinners or anything like that.” He lived outside conventional ideas, he implied, because “I live alone mostly, in the middle of nowhere.”
Around the same time, I noticed that those who part with $2,285 a night to stay in a cliff-top room at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, pay partly for the privilege of not having a TV in their rooms; the future of travel, I’m reliably told, lies in “black-hole resorts,” which charge high prices precisely because you can’t get online in their rooms.
Has it really come to this?
The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Internet rescue camps in South Korea and China try to save kids addicted to the screen.
Writer friends of mine pay good money to get the Freedom software that enables them to disable the very Internet connections that seemed so emancipating not long ago. Even Intel experimented in 2007 with conferring four uninterrupted hours of quiet time (no phone or e-mail) every Tuesday morning on 300 engineers and managers. Workers were not allowed to use the phone or send e-mail, but simply had the chance to clear their heads and to hear themselves think.
The average American spends at least eight and a half hours a day in front of a screen, Nicholas Carr notes in his book The Shallows. The average American teenager sends or receives 75 text messages a day, though one girl managed to handle an average of 10,000 every 24 hours for a month.
Since luxury is a function of scarcity, the children of tomorrow will long for nothing more than intervals of freedom from all the blinking machines, streaming videos and scrolling headlines that leave them feeling empty and too full all at once.
The urgency of slowing down—to find the time and space to think—is nothing new, of course, and wiser souls have always reminded us that the more attention we pay to the moment, the less time and energy we have to place it in some larger context. “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries,” the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in the 17th century, “and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” He also famously remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
When telegraphs and trains brought in the idea that convenience was more important than content, Henry David Thoreau reminded us that “the man whose horse trots (奔跑), a mile in a minute does not carry the most important messages.”
Marshall McLuhan, who came closer than most to seeing what was coming, warned, “When things come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself.”
We have more and more ways to communicate, but less and less to say. Partly because we are so busy communicating. And we are rushing to meet so many deadlines that we hardly register that what we need most are lifelines.
So what to do? More and more people I know seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation (沉思), or tai chi (太极)；these aren’t New Age fads (时尚的事物) so much as ways to connect with what could be called the wisdom of old age. Two friends of mine observe an “Internet sabbath (安息日)” every week, turning off their online connections from Friday night to Monday morning. Other friends take walks and “forget” their cellphones at home.
A series of tests in recent years has shown, Mr. Carr points out, that after spending time in quiet rural settings, subjects “exhibit greater attentiveness, stronger memory and generally improved cognition. Their brains become both calmer and sharper.” More than that, empathy (同感，共鸣)，as well as deep thought, depends (as neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio have found) on neural processes that are “inherently slow.”
I turn to eccentric measures to try to keep my mind sober and ensure that I have time to do nothing at all (which is the only time when I can see what I should be doing the rest of the time).I have yet to use a cellphone and I have never Tweeted or entered Facebook. I try not to go online till my day’s writing is finished, and I moved from Manhattan to rural Japan in part so I could more easily survive for long stretches entirely on foot.
None of this is a matter of asceticism (苦行主义)；it is just pure selfishness. Nothing makes me feel better than being in one place, absorbed in a book, a conversation, or music. It is actually something deeper than mere happiness: it is joy, which the monk (僧侣) David Steindl-Rast describes as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”
It is vital, of course, to stay in touch with the world. But it is only by having some distance from the world that you can see it whole, and understand what you should be doing with it.
For more than 20 years, therefore, I have been going several times a year—often for no longer than three days—to a Benedictine hermitage (修道院)，40 minutes down the road, as it happens, from the Post Ranch Inn. I don’t attend services when I am there, and I have never meditated, there or anywhere; I just take walks and read and lose myself in the stillness, recalling that it is only by stepping briefly away from my wife and bosses and friends that I will have anything useful to bring to them. The last time I was in the hermitage, three months ago, I happened to meet with a youngish-looking man with a 3-year-old boy around his shoulders.
“You’re Pico, aren’t you?” the man said, and introduced himself as Larry; we had met, I gathered, 19 years before, when he had been living in the hermitage as an assistant to one of the monks.
“What are you doing now?” I asked.
We smiled. No words were necessary.
“I try to bring my kids here as often as I can,” he went on. The child of tomorrow, I realized, may actually be ahead of us, in terms of sensing not what is new, but what is essential. 【題組】1. What is special about the Post Ranch Inn?
(A) Its rooms are well furnished but dimly lit.
(B) It makes guests feel like falling into a black hole.
(C) There is no access to television in its rooms.
(D) It provides all the luxuries its guests can think of.
2.【題組】2. What does the author say the children of tomorrow will need most?
(A) Convenience and comfort in everyday life.
(B) Time away from all electronic gadgets.
(C) More activities to fill in their leisure time.
(D) Greater chances for individual development.
3.【題組】3. What does the French philosopher Blaise Pascal say about distraction?
(A) It leads us to lots of mistakes. (B) It renders us unable to concentrate.
(C) It helps release our excess energy. (D) It is our greatest misery in life.
4.【題組】4. According to Marshall McLuhan, what will happen if things come at us very fast?
(A) We will not know what to do with our own lives.
(B) We will be busy receiving and sending messages.
(C) We will find it difficult to meet our deadlines.
(D) We will not notice what is going on around us.
5.【題組】5. What does the author say about yoga, meditation and tai chi?
(A) They help people understand ancient wisdom.
(B) They contribute to physical and mental health.
(C) They are ways to communicate with nature.
(D) They keep people from various distractions.
6.【題組】6. What is neuroscientist Antonio Damasio’s finding?
(A) Quiet rural settings contribute a lot to long life.
(B) One’s brain becomes sharp when it is activated.
(C) Eccentric measures are needed to keep one’s mind sober.
(D) When people think deeply, their neural processes are slow.
7.【題組】7. The author moved from Manhattan to rural Japan partly because he could _______.
(A) stay away from the noise of the big city.
(B) live without modern transportation.
(C) enjoy the beautiful view of the countryside.
(D) practice asceticism in a local hermitage
Questions 52 to 56 are based on the following passage.
Amid all the job losses, there’s one category of worker that the economic disruption has been good for: nonhumans.
From self-service checkout lines at the supermarket to industrial robots armed with saws and taught to carve up animal bodies in slaughter-houses, these ever-more-intelligent machines are now not just assisting workers but actually kicking them out of their jobs.
Automation isn’t just affecting factory workers, either. Some law firms now use artificial intelligence software to scan and read mountains of legal documents, work that previously was performed by highly-paid human lawyers.
“Robots continue to have an impact on blue-collar jobs, and white-collar jobs are under attack by microprocessors,” says economics professor Edward Leamer. The recession permanently wiped out 2.5 million jobs. U.S. gross domestic product has climbed back to pre-recession levels, meaning we’re producing as much as before, only with 6% fewer workers. To be sure, robotics are not the only job killers out there, with outsourcing (外包) stealing far more jobs than automation.
Jeff Burnstein, president of the Robotics Industry Association, argues that robots actually save U.S. jobs. His logic: companies that embrace automation might use fewer workers, but that’s still better than firing everyone and moving the work overseas.
It’s not that robots are cheaper than humans, though often they are. It’s that they’re better. “In some cases the quality requirements are so exacting that even if you wanted to have a human do the job, you couldn’t,” Burnstein says.
Same goes for surgeons, who’re using robotic systems to perform an ever-growing list of operations—not because the machines save money but because, thanks to the greater precision of robots, the patients recover in less time and have fewer complications, says Dr. Myriam Curet.
Surgeons may survive the robot invasion, but others at the hospital might not be so lucky, as iRobot, maker of the Roomba, a robot vacuum cleaner, has been showing off Ava, which could be used as a messenger in a hospital. And once you’re home, recovering, Ava could let you talk to your doctor, so there’s no need to send someone to your house. That “mobile telepresence” could be useful at the office. If you’re away on a trip, you can still attend a meeting. Just connect via videoconferencing software, so your face appears on Ava’s screen.
Is any job safe? I was hoping to say “journalist,” but researchers are already developing software that can gather facts and write a news story. Which means that a few years from now, a robot could be writing this column. And who will read it? Well, there might be a lot of us hanging around with lots of free time on our hands. 【題組】52. What do we learn from the first few paragraphs?
(A) The over-use of robots has done damage to American economy.
(B) It is hard for robots to replace humans in highly professional work.
(C) Artificial intelligence is key to future technological innovations.
(D) The robotic industry has benefited from the economic recession.
9.【題組】53. What caused the greatest loss of jobs in America?
(A) Using microprocessors extensively.
(B) Moving production to other countries.
(C) The bankruptcy of many companies.
(D) The invasion of migrant workers.
10.【題組】54. What does Jeff Burnstein say about robots?
(A) They help companies to revive.
(B) They are cheaper than humans.
(C) They prevent job losses in a way.
(D) They compete with human workers.
11.【題組】55. Why are robotic systems replacing surgeons in more and more operations according to Dr. Myriam Curet?
(A) They save lots of money for the patients.
(B) They beat humans in precision.
(C) They take less time to perform a surgery.
(D) They make operations less painful.
12.【題組】56. What does the author imply about robotics?
(A) It will greatly enrich literary creation.
(B) It will start a new technological revolution.
(C) It will revolutionize scientific research.
(D) It will be applied in any field imaginable.
Questions 57 to 61 are based on the following passage.
You’ve now heard it so many times, you can probably repeat it in your sleep. President Obama will no doubt make the point publicly when he gets to Beijing: the Chinese need to consume more; they need—believe it or not—to become more like Americans, for the sake of the global economy.
And it’s all true. But the other side of that equation is that the U.S. needs to save more. For the moment, American households actually are doing so. After the personal-savings rate dipped to zero in 2005, the shock of the economic crisis last year prompted people to snap shut their wallets.
In China, the household-savings rate exceeds 20%. It is partly for policy reasons. As we’ve seen, wage earners are expected to care for not only their children but their aging parents. And there is, to date, only the flimsiest (脆弱的) of publicly-funded health care and pension systems, which increases incentives for individuals to save while they are working. But China is a society that has long esteemed personal financial prudence (谨慎). There is no chance that will change anytime soon, even if the government creates a better social safety net and successfully encourages greater consumer spending.
Why does the U.S. need to learn a little frugality (节俭)？Because healthy savings rates are one of the surest indicators of a country’s long-term financial health. High savings lead, over time, to increased investment, which in turn generates productivity gains, innovation and job growth. In short, savings are the seed corn of a good economic harvest.
The U.S. government thus needs to act as well. By running constant deficits, it is dis-saving, even as households save more. Peter Orszag, Obama’s Budget Director, recently called the U.S. budget deficits unsustainable and he’s right. To date, the U.S. has seemed unable to see the consequences of spending so much more than is taken in. That needs to change. And though Hu Jintao and the rest of the Chinese leadership aren’t inclined to lecture visiting Presidents, he might gently hint that Beijing is getting a little nervous about the value of the dollar—which has fallen 15% since March, in large part because of increasing fears that America’s debt load is becoming unmanageable.
That’s what happens when you’re the world’s biggest creditor: you get to drop hints like that, which would be enough by themselves to create international economic chaos if they were ever leaked. (Every time any official in Beijing deliberates publicly about seeking an alternative to the U.S. dollar for the $2.1 trillion China holds in reserve, currency traders have a heart attack.) If Americans saved more and spent less, consistently over time, they wouldn’t have to worry about all that. 【題組】57. How did the economic crisis affect Americans?
(A) They had to tighten their belts.
(B) Their bank savings rate dropped to zero.
(C) Their leadership in the global economy was shaken.
(D) They became concerned about China’s financial policy.
14.【題組】58. What should be done to encourage Chinese people to consume?
(A) Changing their traditional way of life.
(B) Providing fewer incentives for saving.
(C) Improving China’s social security system.
(D) Cutting down the expenses on child-rearing.
15.【題組】59. What does the author mean by saying “savings are the seed corn of a good economic harvest” (Line 4, Para. 4)?
(A) The more one saves, the more returns one will reap.
(B) A country’s economy hinges on its savings policy.
(C) Those who keep saving will live an easy life in the end.
(D) A healthy savings rate promotes economic prosperity.
16.【題組】60. In what circumstances do currency traders become scared?
(A) When Beijing allows its currency exchange rates to float.
(B) When China starts to reduce its current foreign reserves.
(C) When China talks about switching its dollar reserves to other currencies.
(D) When Beijing mentions in public the huge debts America owes China.
17.【題組】61. What is the author’s purpose of writing the passage?
(A) To urge the American government to cut deficits.
(B) To encourage Chinese people to spend more.
(C) To tell Americans not to worry about their economy.
(D) To promote understanding between China and America.
18. Part V Cloze （15 minutes）
Directions: There are 20 blanks in the following passage. For each blank there are four choices marked A）, B）, C） and D） on the right side of the paper. You should choose the ONE that best fits into the passage. Then mark the corresponding letter on Answer Sheet 2 with a single line through the centre.
“My job is killing me.”Who among us hasn't issued that complaint at least once? Now a new study suggests that your dramatic complaint may ____62____ some scientific truth.
The 20-year study, by researchers at Tel Aviv University, _____63______ to examine the relationship between the workplace and a person's risk of death. Researchers _____64_____ 820 adults who had undergone a ______65____ physical exam at a health clinic in 1988, and then interviewed them _____66_____ detail about their workplace conditions—asking how nice their colleagues were, whether their boss was supportive and how much ______67_____ they had in their position.
The participants_____68_____ in age from 25 to 65 at the start of the study and worked in a variety of ____69___, including finance, health care, manufacturing and insurance. The researchers _____70______ the participants through their medical records: by the study's conclusion in 2008, 53 people had died—and they were significantly more likely than those who survived to report having a ____71____ work environment.
People who reported having little or no ____72____ support from their co-workers were 2.4 times more likely to die ____73____ the course of the study than those who said they had close, supportive _____74_____ with their workmates. Interestingly, the risk of death was _____75_____ only to people's perceptions of their co-workers, not their bosses . People who reported negative relationships with their supervisors were ____76____ likely to die than others.
The study was observational, _____77____ it could not determine whether toxic workplace environments caused death, only that it was _____78____ with the risk. But the findings add to the evidence ______79_______ having a supportive social network decreases stress and helps _____80____ good health. On the other hand, being exposed _____81_____ chronic stress contributes to depression, ill health and death. 【題組】62. (A) hold (C) risk (B) strike (D)trace