Cai Lun, traditionally credited as the inventor of the modern papermaking process, made his “today’s featured article” debut on 4 August 2021. Few Chinese people if any have been honored as such.




Mary Shelley, the English novelist who wrote Frankenstein, has been inducted into WIKIPEDIA’s starred articles. Her “today’s featured article” debut took place on 30 August 2021.
(Mary Shelley’s mother Mary Wollstonecraft, who was a writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights, is also enshrined in a starred article.)



On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, “United Airlines Flight 93” has been properly chosen as “today’s featured article” on Wikipedia’s main page to commemorate the 2,977 victims killed on that fateful day that would forever change the world as the American people knew it.

United Airlines Flight 93 was the only one of the four airplanes hijacked on 11 September 2001 that didn’t reach its intended target, the US Capital Hill in Washington, D.C.; it instead crashed into an open field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. All 40 people onboard (excluding the four hijackers) were killed after their heroic but failed attempt to regain control of the plane.



William IV, or William Henry, was one of the numerous kings churned out in the long and complicated history of the United Kingdom, many of whom are unfamiliar even to well-educated UK natives.

Wikipedia seems to favor UK rulers over US presidents—few US presidents’ pages are decorated with a bronze star, while at least four of William IV’s close relatives are honored as such, including his father George III, elder brother George IV, niece Queen Victoria, and younger brother Ernest Augustus.



1 Like



Two interesting facts in the article stand out:

  1. The Romans imported the plant from ancient Egypt as a food crop and gave its name “lactuca”, from which the modern English word “lettuce” is derived.
  2. World production of lettuce and chicory for 2017 was 27 million tonnes, 56% of which came from China.



1 Like



You may not remember when this concept of “climate change” began to appear in the media, but I can remind you of the following extreme weather events witnessed recently in different parts of the world: the sweeping wildfires and record-breaking high temperatures scorching America’s western states, Turkey’s Mediterranean Region, and almost the entirety of Greece; flash floods that killed 196 people in Germany, becoming its deadliest natural disaster since the North Sea flood of 1962; a rainstorm that dumped a year’s worth of precipitation in three days, causing at least 300 deaths in Zhengzhou, China’s Yunnan province; another downpour turning New York’s subway into waterfalls, an otherworldly sight that New Yorkers have never seen in their lifetime…

With a succesion of weather rarities, the severe impact of climate change on human life has been hammered home for the public. It is not something told with hyperboles; not a terrible catastrophe that many think would only befall a far-off Third World country; and not some odd phenomenon from a future world centaries away. Climate change is real and it is happening, right here and now, every single day, just as you get up, finish up your coffee, then go to work or school. Come to think of it, even our politicians who feel no qualms about sending innocent young men to die in war have become serious about it.

It is against this backdrop of global crisis that this year’s G20 summit opens in Rome, Italy’s capital, at which how to deal with climate change is a major topic on the agenda.



At COP26, countries are being asked to come forward with practical climate action to achieve the goal of reaching global carbon neutrality by the middle of the century. It needs an across-the-board package of measures and policies endorsed by both developed and developing countries, and one important step is to expand the use of sustainable energy, as in accelerating the phase-out of coal; replacing fuel-powered cars with electric vehicles; installing wind turbines and solar panels, etc.

Days ago at the G20 summit in Rome, at which the climate crisis was also a topic, Prince Charles urged G20 leaders to deliver on their promises now.

“Quite literally, this is the last chance saloon. We must now translate fine words into still finer actions”, he said.


Although it’s a household name in America and well-known in China, I haven’t read The Great Gatsby yet. To mark its appearing on Wikipedia’s home page as a “today’s featured article”, however, I’ve learned something about this novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Jazz Age, a term coined by the author to enshrine the 1920s’ infamous tumultuousness. One fact particularly interests me: the book wasn’t a success when Fitzgerald was alive; he even believed that his writing career was a failure and his works would be forgotten.

The novel’s path to prominence is a bumpy road. Following its publication in 1925, critics argued that it didn’t compare with Fitzgerald’s previous efforts, and its disappointing sales dashed his hopes of receiving a windfall. Fast-forward to the Second World War, when a variety of books were distributed to U.S. soldiers serving overseas to boost morale, among them The Great Gatsby. Hereafter the book somehow experienced a surge in popularity, leading to its critical re-examination. Over time, it stepped into the spotlight and even became a candidate for the “Great American Novel”, one particular novel, or more broadly a literary canon, believed to incarnate America’s national character. Other contenders include To Kill A Mockingbird, Moby Dick, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to name a few. Today, The Great Gatsby is a must-read for high school students and has been translated into dozens of languages.

Whereas one critic regards a work as rubbish, another may deem it masterful. Why can people be this divided on the value of a book, or an oil painting, or an opera? A lost or undervalued piece of scientific knowledge will certainly be rediscovered by scientists of later generations, because scientific truths were born along with the universe, and will always be there until the universe itself ceases to exist. A dusty work of art, however, might never be dusted. Art works aren’t truths; they are produced by mortal brains and hands. To be eternalized, they must be recognized in a window of time, say, five to twenty years. Beyond that time, they will irreversibly dissolve in the universe. There must have been many, many dismissed art works in history that would be crowned as masterworks today. But, is it possible that today’s acknowledged masterpieces like The Great Gatsby and Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night will literally get trashed to the garbage dump of fine arts somewhere down the road?


By a happy coincidence, this magic and magnificent instrument named “carillon” appeared on Wikipedia’s home page just two weeks after I learned about it in another context. The carillon is not a single piece of instrument like a trombone or a harp, but a church’s fixed installation as large and complex as pipe organs used in big cathedrals. A typical carillon consists of a piano-like console a carillonneur plays on, a particular number of bells hanging in the bell tower, and in between a transmission system connecting the two parts.
… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …
The aura of this beautiful instrument can easily stir imagination:

"I remember it was a week when the earliest intimations of fall had began manifesting themselves in the air. As I walked across the sedate campus, an occasional breath of wind would send shriveled fallen leaves turning somersaults every which way, with an accompanying melody from the nearby carillon that was now dreamy, now soothing.

“Campus tradition dictates that a student will make good romantically in their freshman year if they touch the carillon tower on the quadrangle while walking around it on the first day of classes. I was now a sophomore and had done just that last year, but the romance promised by that tale of yore hadn’t materialized yet, and might never so considering my current situation.”
… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …
It is much more physically demanding to handle a church carillon than to play a grand piano; several hours of practice may bring about wrist pain. As those heavy wooden keys, which are in the shape of wine bottles, make a deep unpleasant sound while pressed, the real melody is being sung by the business end of this instrument—the bell set—and being heard outside of the building near and far.

This vlog features a Chinese girl studying in Chicago, U.S., who is a senior now and will soon leave college. She seems to be a mathematics major but has been learning to play the carillon at her university’s church tower since inducted into a music club in her freshman year. Her outlook on life and music impresses me, and I believe that the post-secondary education she receives in the U.S. has brought new life into her mind.


With more animals, plants, and dinosaurs sporting that bronze star in the top right-hand corner of their pages, zoology and botany are among those subjects that have been taken seriously on Wikipedia.

I know little about this big cat species called “jaguar”, and I can’t tell which one is a leopard and which one a jaguar. I remember that I deposited this word “jaguar” in my bank of vocabulary when watching “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, a 2017 fantasy adventure film starring Dwayne Johnson. The film features four American high schoolers being sucked into a video game named “Jumanji”, in which they, to leave the game, have to return a large green gemstone that has been stolen by an evil character from the eye of a jaguar statue hidden far away in the jungle. It’s a fascinating story indeed.

I have learned from “today’s featured article” that jaguars are frequently mentioned in the mythology of numerous indigenous peoples of the Americas, prominently those of the Aztec and Maya civilizations. Maybe that’s the reason why director Jake Kasdan consciously chose a jaguar statue as his jewel’s receptacle, but the mythological metaphor he possibly intended must have fallen flat for viewers around the world.


This discussion about “prison education” reminds me of Xinjiang’s “vocational education and training centers”, a system Beijing established in 2017 to integrate Uygur minorities but since picked apart by the US-led Western world calling them “internment camps” where Uygurs are forced to be indoctrinated with the CPC ideology. As the Beijing Winter Olympics approaches, China’s ethnic policies as well as that sensational “Me Too” allegation of a Chinese tennis star are being weaponized in a big way so as to boycott the upcoming Games.