Well, we made it everyone. It is the end of 2020, a challenging year for many reasons. I rounded up my year on the blog, so please take a look. Despite everything (gestures wildly) this year has been good to me. I hope it was for you.
A cold wave hit Ikijima this week, so we got -6 weather. We even saw three snowflakes! But the sky is a crisp blue, and the colour of the ocean makes me all sentimental. I am thinking about you all!
Please note, this is the last time you will receive a newsletter via the TinyLetter service. I have successfully transferred everything over to Buttondown for 2021. You will get an email from me at the end of January from this spanking new email address firstname.lastname@example.org which you might want to add to your contacts to prevent delivery into the old spam box.
See you in the New Year!
🖋 From the Blog
Best of 2020
My annual year-end roundup is also a decade-end roundup.
The nearly 400 year legacy of a cutting edge ceramic coffee filter
A discovery we made at a shopping stall illustrates how traditional crafts can transform through the ages.
From the Ruins of Empire — a review
How Asian thinkers since the 19th C have thought about Western imperialism still echos into the 21st. Definitely one of the best books I read this year.
New writing elsewhere, by me
With the release of my article in Kyoto Journal, I round up all the writing I did for magazines and websites, and some of my writing challenges and goals.
My piece “on location” about travel writing came out in Kyoto Journal. Link →
Gave my top picks for Books On Asia. Link →
Wrote about the value of reclusion for Writers in Kyoto. Link →
Reviewed Japan in Asia: Post-Cold-War Diplomacy. Link →
What is better for the climate fight? This stimulating little quiz demonstrates just how off our judgements are. Take the quiz → / See my reaction →
“The power of the state is measured by bread.” Lovely short documentary about an inventive man in Tajikistan. I was about 40kms away from this village in 2004 (see a couple of my pics). Video →
NYTimes 2020 in Pictures. Everyone has probably already seen this, but what a rollercoaster! Link →
📖 What I’m Reading
In the Dragon's Shadow: Southeast Asia in the Chinese Century
Sebastian Strangio takes us around each of the countries of Southeast Asia, describing from the ground the effects of a tide Chinese investment and influence, and what is left behind when that tide recedes. Stangio argues that China is not trying to “remake” SE Asia in its own image, just provide a convenient financial backstop for local regimes to continue their anti-democratic behaviour and not be integrated in the wider global community. (I haven’t made as much progress as I would like since I have been reading the final Harry Potter book over the holidays with my daughter who is totally binging and I am struggling to keep up!)
Connect with me on GoodReads →