• 1.   From the early days of broadband, advocates for consumers and web-based companies worried that the cable and phone companies selling broadband connections had the power and incentive to favor their own or their partners’ websites and services over those of their rivals. That’s why there has been such a strong demand for rules that would prevent broadband providers from picking winners and losers online, preserving the freedom and innovation that have been the lifeblood of the internet.   Yet that demand has been almost impossible to fill — in part because of pushback from broadband providers, anti-regulatory conservatives and the courts. A federal appeals court weighed in again Tuesday, but instead of providing a badly needed resolution, it only prolonged the fight. At issue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was the latest take of the Federal Communications Commission on net neutrality, adopted on a party-line vote in 2017. The Republican-penned order not only eliminated the strict net neutrality rules the FCC had adopted when it had a Democratic majority in 2015, but rejected the commission’s authority to require broadband providers to do much of anything. The order also declared that state and local governments couldn’t regulate broadband providers either.   The commission argued that other agencies would protect against anti-competitive behavior, such as a broadband-providing conglomerate like AT&T favoring its own video-streaming service at the expense of Netflix and Apple TV. Yet the FCC also ended the investigations of broadband providers that imposed data caps on their rivals’ streaming services but not their own.   On Tuesday, the appeals court unanimously upheld the 2017order deregulating broadband providers, citing a Supreme Court ruling from 2005that upheld a similarly deregulatory move. But Judge Patricia Millett rightly argued in a concurring opinion that "the result is unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service," and said Congress or the Supreme Court could intervene to "avoid trapping Internet regulation in technological anachronism."   In the meantime, the court threw out the FCC’s attempt to block all state rules on net neutrality, while preserving the commission’s power to pre-empt individual state laws that undermine its order. That means more battles like the one now going on between the Justice Department and California, which enacted a tough net neutrality law in the wake of the FCC’s abdication.   The endless legal battles and back-and-forth at the FCC cry out for Congress to act. It needs to give the commission explicit authority once and for all to bar broadband providers from meddling in the traffic on their network and to create clear rules protecting openness and innovation online.

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 考研英语(一)

  • 2.   As a historian, who’s always searching for the text or the image that makes us re-evaluate the past. I’ve become preoccupied with looking for photographs that show our Victorian ancestors smiling (what better way to shatter the image of 19th-century prudery?). I’ve found quite a few, and—since I started posting them on Twitter—they have been causing quite a stir. People have been surprised to see evidence that Victorians had fun and could, and did, laugh. They are noting that the Victorians suddenly seem to become more human as the hundred-or-so years that separate us fade away through our common experience of laughter.   Of course, I need to concede that my collection of “Smiling Victorians” makes up only a tiny percentage of the vast catalogue of photographic portraiture created between 1840and 1900, the majority of which show sitters posing miserably and stiffly in front of painted backdrops, or staring absently into the middle distance. How do we explain this trend?   During the 1840s and 1850s, in the early days of photography, exposure times were notoriously long: the daguerreotype photographic method (producing an image on a silvered copper plate) could take several minutes to complete, resulting in blurred images as sitters shifted position or adjusted their limbs. The thought of holding a fixed grin as the camera performed its magical duties was too much to contemplate, and so a non-committal blank stare became the norm.   But exposure times were much quicker by the 1880s, and the introduction of the Box Brownie and other portable cameras meant that, though slow by today’s digital standards, the exposure was almost instantaneous. Spontaneous smiles were relatively easy to capture by the 1890s, so we must look elsewhere for an explanation of why Victorians still hesitated to smile.   One explanation might be the loss of dignity displayed through a cheesy grin. “Nature gave us lips to conceal our teeth,” ran one popular Victorian maxim, alluding to the fact that before the birth of proper dentistry, mouths were often in a shocking state of hygiene. A flashing set of healthy and clean, regular “pearly whites” was a rare sight in Victorian society, the preserve of the super-rich (and even then, dental hygiene was not guaranteed).   A toothy grin (especially when there were gaps or blackened gnashers) lacked class: drunks, tramps, prostitutes and buffoonish music hall performers might gurn and grin with a smile as wide as Lewis Carroll’s gum-exposing Cheshire Cat, but it was not a becoming look for properly bred persons. Even Mark Twain, a man who enjoyed a hearty laugh, said that when it came to photographic portraits there could be “nothing more damning than a silly, foolish smile fixed forever”.

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 考研英语(一)

  • 3.   Last year marked the third year in a row of when Indonesia’s bleak rate of deforestation has slowed in pace. One reason for the turnaround may be the country’s antipoverty program.   In 2007, Indonesia started phasing in a program that gives money to its poorest residents under certain conditions, such as requiring people to keep kids in school or get regular medical care. Called conditional cash transfers or CCTs, these social assistance programs are designed to reduce inequality and break the cycle of poverty. They’re already used in dozens of countries worldwide. In Indonesia, the program has provided enough food and medicine to substantially reduce severe growth problems among children.     But CCT programs don’t generally consider effects on the environment. In fact, poverty alleviation and environmental protection are often viewed as conflicting goals, says Paul Ferraro, an economist at Johns Hopkins University.   That’s because economic growth can be correlated with environmental degradation, while protecting the environment is sometimes correlated with greater poverty. However, those correlations don’t prove cause and effect. The only previous study analyzing causality, based on an area in Mexico that had instituted CCTs, supported the traditional view. There, as people got more money, some of them may have more cleared land for cattle to raise for meat, Ferraro says.   Such programs do not have to negatively affect the environment, though. Ferraro wanted to see if Indonesia’s poverty-alleviation program was affecting deforestation. Indonesia has the third- largest area of tropical forest in the world and one of the highest deforestation rates.   Ferraro analyzed satellite data showing annual forest loss from 2008to 2012—including during Indonesia’s phase-in of the antipoverty program—in 7,468forested villages across 15 provinces and multiple islands. The duo separated the effects of the CCT program on forest loss from other factors, like weather and macroeconomic changes, which were also affecting forest loss. With that, “we see that the program is associated with a 30percent reduction in deforestation,” Ferraro says.   That’s likely because the rural poor are using the money as makeshift insurance policies against inclement weather, Ferraro says. Typically, if rains are delayed, people may clear land to plant more rice to supplement their harvests. With the CCTs, individuals instead can use the money to supplement their harvests.   Whether this research translates elsewhere is anybody’s guess. Ferraro suggests the results may transfer to other parts of Asia, due to commonalities such as the importance of growing rice and market access. And regardless of transferability, the study shows that what’s good for people may also be good for the environment. Even if this program didn’t reduce poverty. Ferraro says, “the value of the avoided deforestation just for carbon dioxide emissions alone is more than the program costs.”

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 考研英语(一)

  • 4.   How can the train operators possibly justify yet another increase to rail passenger fares? It has become a grimly reliable annual ritual: every January the cost of travelling by train rises, imposing a significant extra burden on those who have no option but to use the rail network to get to work or otherwise. This year’s rise, an average of 2.7 percent, may be a fraction lower than last year’s, but it is still well above the official Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation.   Successive governments have permitted such increases on the grounds that the cost of investing in and running the rail network should be borne by those who use it, rather than the general taxpayer. Why, the argument goes, should a car-driving pensioner from Lincolnshire have to subsidise the daily commute of a stockbroker from Surrey? Equally, there is a sense that the travails of commuters in the South East, many of whom will face among the biggest rises, have received too much attention compared to those who must endure the relatively poor infrastructure of the Midlands and the North.   However, over the past 12months, those commuters have also experienced some of the worst rail strikes in years. It is all very well train operators trumpeting the improvements they are making to the network, but passengers should be able to expect a basic level of service for the substantial sums they are now paying to travel. The responsibility for the latest wave of strikes rests on the unions. However, there is a strong case that those who have been worst affected by industrial action should receive compensation for the disruption they have suffered.   The Government has pledged to change the law to introduce a minimum service requirement so that, even when strikes occur, services can continue to operate. This should form part of a wider package of measures to address the long-running problems on Britain’s railways. Yes, more investment is needed, but passengers will not be willing to pay more indefinitely if they must also endure cramped, unreliable services, punctuated by regular chaos when timetables are changed, or planned maintenance is managed incompetently. The threat of nationalisation may have been seen off for now, but it will return with a vengeance if the justified anger of passengers is not addressed in short order.

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 考研英语(一)

  • 5.   During an interview for one of my books, my interviewer said something I still think about often. Annoyed by the level of distraction(干扰)in his open office, he said, “That’s why I have a membership at the coworking space across the street —so I can focus. "His comment struck me as strange. After all, coworking spaces also typically use an open office layout (布局). But I recently came across a study that shows why his approach works.   The researchers examined various levels of noise on participants as they completed tests of creative thinking. They were randomly divided into four groups and exposed tovarious noise levels in the background, from total silence to 50 decibels(分贝),70 decibels, and 85 decibels. The differences between most of the groups were statistically insignificant; however,the participants in the 70 decibels group—those exposed to a level of noise similar to background chatter in a coffee shop-significantly outperformed the other groups. Since the effects were small, this may suggest that our creative thinking does not differ that much in response to total silence and 85 decibels of background noise.   But since the results at 70 decibels were significant, the study also suggests that the right level of background noise—not too loud and not total silence—may actually improve one’s creative thinking ability. The right level of background noise may interrupt our normal patterns of thinking just enough to allow our imaginations to wander, without making it impossible to focus. This kind of "distracted focus" appears to be the best state for working on creative tasks.   So why do so many of us hate our open offices? The problem may be that, in our offices, we can't stop ourselves from getting drawn into others’ conversations while we’re trying to focus. Indeed, the researchers found that face-to-face interactions and conversations affect the creative process, and yet a coworking space or a coffee shop provides a certain level of noise while also providing freedom from interruptions.

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 安徽卷

  • 6.   You’ve heard that plastic is polluting the oceans—between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes enter ocean ecosystems every year. But does one plastic straw or cup really make a difference? Artist Benjamin Von Wong wants you to know that it does. He builds massive sculptures out of plastic garbage, foreing viewers to re-examine their relationship to single-use plastic products.   At the beginning of the year, the artist built a piece called“Strawpocalypse,” a pair of 10-foot-tall plastic waves, frozen mid-crash. Made of 168,000 plastic straws collected from several volunteer beach cleanups, the sculpture made its first appearance at the Estella Place shopping center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.   Just 9% of global plastic waste is recycled. Plastic straws are by no means the biggest source (来源)of plastic pollution, but they’ve recently come under fire because most people don’t need them to drink with and, because of their small size and weight, they cannot be recycled. Every straw that' s part of Von Wong's artwork likely came from a drink that someone used for only a few minutes. Once the drink is gone, the straw will take centuries to disappear.   In a piece from 2018, Von Wong wanted to illustrate (说明) a specific statistic: Every 60 seconds, a truckload's worth of plastic enters the ocean. For this work, titled "Truckload of Plastic, "Von Wong and a group of volunteers collected more than 10,000 pieces of plastic, which were then tied together to look like they’d been dumped(倾倒)from a truck all at once.   Von Wong hopes that his work will also help pressure big companies to reduce their plastic footprint.

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 安徽卷

  • 7.  When almost everyone has a mobile phone, why are more than half of Australian homes still paying for a landline (座机)  These days you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in Australia over the age of 15 who doesn’t own a mobile phone. In fact plenty of younger kids have one in their pocket. Practically everyone can make and receive calls anywhere, anytime.  Still, 55 percent of Australians have a landline phone at home and only just over a quarter (29%) rely only on their smartphones, according to a survey (调查).Of those Australians who still have a landline, a third concede that it's not really necessary and they're keeping it as a security blanket - 19 percent say they never use it while a further 13 percent keep it in case of emergencies. I think my home falls into that category.  More than half of Australian homes are still choosing to stick with their home phone. Age is naturally a factor (因素)-only 58 percent of Generation Ys still use landlines now and then, compared to 84 percent of Baby Boomers who've perhaps had the same home number for 50 years. Age isn't the only factor; I'd say it's also to do with the makeup of your household.  Generation Xers with young families, like my wife and I, can still find it convenient to have a home phone rather than providing a mobile phone for every family member. That said, to be honest the only people who ever ring our home phone are our Baby Boomers parents, to the point where we play a game and guess who is calling before we pick up the phone (using Caller ID would take the fun out of it).  How attached are you to your landline? How long until they go the way of gas street lamps and morning milk deliveries?

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 安徽卷

  • 8. The Biggest Stadiums in the World   People have been pouring into stadiums since the days of ancient Greece. In around 8 A.Q., the Romans built the Colosseum, which remains the world's best known stadium are continues to inform contemporary design. Rome’s Colosseum was 157 feet tall and had 80 entrances, seating 50,000 people. However, that was small fry compared with the city’s Circus Maximus, which accommodated around 250,000 people.   These days, safety regulations-not to mention the modern sports fan’s desire for a good view and a comfortable seat-tend to keep stadium capacities(容量)slightly lower. Even soccer fans tend to have a seat each; gone are the days of thousands standing to watch the match.   For the biggest stadiums in the world, we have used data supplied by the World Atlas list so far, which ranks them by their stated permanent capacity, as well as updated information from official stadium websites.  All these stadiums are still functional, still open and still hosting the biggest events in world sport. •Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, Pyongyang, D.P.R-Korea. Capacity. 150,000. Opened. May 1,1989. •Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S. Capacity: 107,601. Opened. October 1, 1927. •Beaver Stadium, State College, Pennsylvania, U.S. Capacity: 106,572. Opened: September 17, I960. •Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, U.S. Capacity: 104,944. Opened: October 7, 1922. •Kyle Field, College Station, Texas, U.S. Capacity: 102,512. Opened: September 24,1927.

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 安徽卷

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