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Politics

I’m sorry I have to show you the next video

On February 1, 2002, jihadists filmed the beheading of US journalist Daniel Pearl. The film was black and white and grainy. Upon its release, the video went viral. Not since the days of the Greeks and Romans, had so many members of the public chosen to view a beheading. I couldn’t understand why anyone would. […]

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China Food Hong Kong Los Angeles Politics

Moon Cake

On the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, Asia celebrates the Harvest Moon Festival. Lions dance in China, Taiwan and Singapore. Japanese and Korean children make paper lanterns while in Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines, the older generation gazes ardently at the full moon. In all these countries, in one form or another, people […]

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Politics

Eucatastrophe

In the 10 days since I arrived in Los Angeles, I’ve experienced fire, earthquake and the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This comes on top of COVID-19, extreme weather and the face mask wars. A friend recently asked, when do the rivers of blood begin? In fact, blood is already on the streets of America, […]

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Politics

Insta-politics

I watch in horror as America comes undone. Anti-racism protesters meet police brutality meet COVID-19. No leadership emanates from the White House, just promises of more violence to come. Social media feeds me diametrically opposed calls to action. One Instagram commentator says silence is an immense privilege that can imply acquiescence. Another says to shut […]

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China Hong Kong Politics Taiwan

The Devil’s Bargain

Deng Xiaoping was a little guy, 5 feet tall though one observer said that was surely an exaggeration. Purged twice in the course of his long political career, you could say Deng is a survivor. The first purge was in 1966, at the start of the Cultural Revolution, for being a capitalist roader. He spent […]

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China Politics Revolution

Cultural Revolution 2.0

This month marks an ominous anniversary. On 16 May 1966, Mao Zedong unleashed the Cultural Revolution. For 10 long years, China was consumed by a political and social chaos, the complexity and brutality of which continues to astound historians today. How could such a thing happen? The entire country was caught by surprise. At the […]

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China Politics The Netherlands

Lantern Festival

When I was a kid, my mother would string Chinese lanterns through our Christmas tree. There were maybe a dozen of those little white lights, each one painted and tasseled. I think they blinked, too. I remember sitting in front of that tree celebrating my very own lantern festival. Traditionally, Chinese lanterns are made with […]

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China Politics

Maps of China

Two maps of Shanghai hang on the walls of my study. One is an 1875 reproduction. Frenchtown curls around the Chinese City while the International Settlement sprawls on top. The other map is handmade, enlarged so that it covers my bulletin board. I’ve superimposed the names of the past onto the streets of the present. […]

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Politics

Little by Little

The day Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I hid under the sheets. I seriously considered giving up my US passport. Then I got mad. I went to my first demonstration and my first march. Meanwhile, I threw money at causes. It was my first taste of activism. But as the chaos […]

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Politics Travel

Home on the Range

Texas, for me, has always been a fly-over state. Aside from a long-ago business trip to Irving, I’d never set foot in the Lone Star State. I imagined Texas to be one great stretch of arid land with only tumbleweeds to break the monotony. A place only Wile E. Coyote could love. Well, folks, I […]