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The Great Tea Trade – China to England in the 1800s
Cutty Sark under sail

The Great Tea Trade – China to England in the 1800s

For a brief period of time, the fastest sailing ships in the world sailed from the coast of China to London - racing to arrive with the fresh crop of tea for British tea drinkers. The British East India Company held a near monopoly on trade with India and China for more than 100 years. But in 1834, the East India company surrendered its monopoly on Asian trade, and so, a competition developed as a number of merchant companies decided they could make money by shipping goods from China to Europe. After the first Anglo-Qing war (somewhat misleadingly called the 1st Opium War), five Treaty Ports were opened to British trade. The most important ports were Canton, and Shanghai. After 1840, the British also took possession of Hong Kong which…

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The Pros and Cons of Buddhist Officials running your Government
Gyeongcheonsa Marble Pagoda

The Pros and Cons of Buddhist Officials running your Government

Gyeongcheonsa Marble Pagoda The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book The Fireflies of Muju - Ten Weeks in Korea - 2011. The Benefits and Costs of Adopting Buddhism as a State Religion The rulers of Silla and the rulers of Vietnam both officially adopted Buddhism as their state religion. Silla did this in 528 and Vietnam did this around 1020 when Ly Thai To took the throne with the backing of several powerful Buddhist monastic leaders. Later, both countries rejected Buddhism as a state religion. Korea‚Äôs government turned away from Buddhism when the Mongols took power in 1260 and the Joseon Dynasty was explicitly anti-Buddhist when they took power in 1392. In Vietnam, when Ho Quy Le took power in 1400, he removed the Buddhists from government and…

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Reforming the USA – #1 – Fewer States
USA Population Map

Reforming the USA – #1 – Fewer States

I am writing a set of posts which describes my proposal for reforming the USA. I start with: Reducing the Number of States. Reduce the number of states - 50 is too many. (Last update: September 9, 2020) Background: When the USA started we had 13 states. Even in 1790, Rhode Island was not close in size or population to the other states, and there were real plans to create the USA by excluding Rhode Island. As it happened, they joined but 13 was a manageable number. By contrast, 50 is too many. There are such wide disparities between the 50 states in terms of population and land area that in no sense are the states even approximately equal. I will use Wyoming as an example. I have traveled across…

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A Deep Dive into: Nothing But Thirty
Gu Jia (played by Tong Yao)

A Deep Dive into: Nothing But Thirty

Gu Jia (played by Tong Yao) Nothing But Thirty is a new Chinese TV series which became quite popular when it was broadcast earlier this year. Filmed in 2019 just before the virus shut down China and then the rest of the world, it provides a good look at modern China in the form of its richest and most advanced city: Shanghai. The story (43 episodes, each about 42 minutes long) covers some six months in the lives of three women, each of whom is about to turn 30 years old and who all live in Shanghai. The title is slight modification to a famous statement made by Confucius about himself. In the Analects he said: At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm.…

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