Some reflections on the challenge of changing from a quantity-obsessed nation to one more focused on quality—quality of products, quality of life, quality of education etc.—while also having to deal with increased inequality in Chinese society. Partly inspired by our new book Polarized Cities.Read More
One of the many advantages to using the Squarespace platform for my blog site is that I have access to a range of analytics that tell me how my website is being used around the world. One of those analytics lets me know how many people are reading (or at least accessing) my blog entries. I can also see where people are accessing them from (country and city or town). This lets me know how many readers are out there and what they are interested in reading about.
Here is a list of the top ten entries from 2018. Keep in mind that this is only a record of how many times these entries were directly accessed through my website. Many more readers were reading them indirectly through other sites such as LinkedIn. The results are not surprising. The top two entries proved very popular when I posted them on LinkedIn (in fact the top entry is from 2017 so the number of readers was much greater back then). The entries on Jack Riley and Joe Farren—I owe their popularity to the great success of Paul French’s book City of Devils. In fact I posted these and a few others in order to help readers of that book get access to some of the original documents Paul used (which aren’t footnoted in his book). And they definitely took advantage of this opportunity. As for the entry on Kunshan, I believe it’s popularity is mainly because the title is in Chinese, so a lot of folks looking up Kunshan bars in Chinese will find this entry (not that they will necessarily read it). This makes me wonder how many more hits I’d get if all my entry titles were in Chinese! Nice to see the article on Whitey Smith also hitting the top ten.
What this says about the popularity or usefulness of my blog I can’t say exactly, since I don’t get much feedback from people. It would be nice to get more comments and more messages from folks, but that’s life! Obviously the articles I’ve been posting on old Shanghai nightlife have proven to be a big hit among readers. As for my other blog entries, well, I’ve always said that I write them mostly for myself, but if others want to read them, that’s fine too!
9. Shanghai's Girl Guides (1936)(195)
I just completed Thoreau’s bio on the last day of 2018. One of the many revelations I gained from reading this wonderful biography Henry David Thoreau: A Life by Laura Dassow Walls (2017) is what an amazing scientist he was and how keen were his powers of observation and analysis of the natural world. I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise—after all, this is the man who famously spent a year or more living in a cabin in the woods on the edge of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. And yet I’d been used to thinking of him more as a political philosopher and “transcendendalist” than a scientist.Read More
I promised myself that by year’s end I'd finish the massive bio of Brahms by Jan Swafford (Johannes Brahms, a Biography, Vintage Books, 1997), which I've been reading all year with great enjoyment. It's been slow going, since it’s such a huge compendium of knowledge and information about the life and times of Johannes Brahms and his many friends, colleagues, and relations over a long lifetime of music-making. Also, every time Swafford goes into an analysis of the music Brahms was composing during different periods of his life, which is often, I find myself stopping to listen to the works he's describing.Read More
An account of a recent trip to Luang Prabang in Laos where I attended a conference on service learning, mixed cement in a remote mountain village, and toured the temples of this UNESCO World Heritage site.Read More
Some tips for urban travelers who want to get the most of the city they are visiting, from a Shanghai flaneur in Barcelona (kinda like an Englishman in New York)Read More
A recounting of a week long trip to Barcelona for the first time, told by a Shanghai flaneur in the second person.Read More
As the director of our new study abroad office at Duke Kunshan University, it was my honor and privilege to participate in the CIEE annual conference held this year from November 7-10 in Barcelona. It was also a great pleasure to visit this wonderful city for the first time (which I will write up in another entry to follow). The focus of the CIEE conference was on “educating global citizens in the digital age” and the conference included many insightful presentations and panels on a wide range of topics relating to the central theme.Read More
Some musings on where Asia begins and ends, where is the center and what are the peripheries, and where does Southeast Asia fit in? With some reflections on my recent trip to Kuala Lumpur and SingaporeRead More
Recounting the Duke Kunshan Cultural Crossroads Festival of August 2018Read More
Occasionally a friend posts something online that is too good not to include in my blog roll. In this case, it's my former colleague in the UNSW School of History, Dr. Geoff Nathan, who posted a long piece on Facebook today listing his top 50 sci-fi films.Read More
A review of the Radiohead and Thomas Dolby concert events in the Boston area in August 2018, along with some notes on the progress of my jazz and blues doc.Read More
Some notes on the man who taught us to love 80s synth musicRead More
Notes from a conference trip to Tokyo and catching up with old friends in Nishiogi and KamakuraRead More
A supreme indulgence: my childhood through the soundtrack of The BeatlesRead More
A plea to people to support my work—not through donations, but by buying and reading and reviewing my books and articles! (every academic dreams of a wider audience than we normally get)Read More
Some philosophical musings on homo ludensRead More
A Q&A with writer Paul French about his latest book, City of Devils, a dark and delightful reconstruction of the city’s nocturnal side in its golden yearsRead More
A mixed review of the new history museum, which starts out promising and ends with something left to be desired
Thirty years ago, I opted to stay in Asia and travel extensively in China. Today I look back on thirty years of engagement with China, around half of that living here and building a career and family.Read More