Speaker for the Dead review

This story on understanding comes in the unexpected shape a science-fiction novel — although anyone who has read Orson Scott Card’s books before would not be so surprised. It’s very different from its prequel, Ender’s Game: Speaker for the Dead is about understanding others, be it different individuals, families or even alien races — and its meditative […]

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Being the center of attention

My mom often told me about me handing out candy on my birthday in kindergarten: hands and plate stretched far out, and my head turned around because I was afraid to look at people. Being the center of attention frightens me. It’s an irrational fear, but a fear nonetheless. The fear isn’t gone, but what […]

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Cruisers & cargo ships

In Amsterdam’s busiest shopping street is a big wooden door that opens into a corridor which leads into a church. Few shoppers notice the door, let alone pass it. But the transition is wonderful: you go from a crowded street, a cacophony, into the silence of a church, and leave the shopping street behind, if […]

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Marriage is a tree

Love isn’t like a flower, that withers every season. Love grows like a tree, branches upwards and roots downwards. One side ecstasy and fantasy, the other exposing our wounds and missing details. It grows both ways, it needs both opposite directions. And just like a tree, it leaves a ring for each year that passes. […]

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Strategy is specific, specifics are semantics

There is a difference between probability and possibility, between rationality and reason, empathy and sympathy, between dogma and ideal, strategy and tactics, differentiation and distinctiveness, supplement and replacement, and efficiency and effectiveness. To some, even the difference between whiskey or whisky matters — as with butter and margarine, or Great Britain and the United Kingdom. […]

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Longing

It’s a fair price to pay to live in Shanghai, but being so far from the Netherlands makes me long for it a lot. The feeling arrives suddenly. I thought I’d be immune to it but no. I walk through familiar streets in Google Street View, I look back at last year’s pictures, and I […]

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How to Be Both review

Here’s a book I really want to love, as it’s lighthearted tale about how art connects time and space and its people. Even the form is highly original, telling about two motherless figures, six hundred years apart — one a troubled teenager, the other an Italian fresco painter. These perspectives draw you in. The book is marketed […]

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Old Captain Bar

‘Old Captain Bar’ (老船长) at 168 Gaoyang Lu in Hongkou is my kind of sad place. It has shiny brewing tanks in its interior, five eager staff in turquoise jackets and a singer doing hits from the 90’s and 00’s, but not too loud, so you can still talk. The television shows figure skating – […]

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