Two years ago I was holed up for a few months in Beijing, finishing the writing of
China Airborne. For a ten-week stretch I was fortunate to turn this space over to a series of guest bloggers, who appeared in squadrons of three or four each for week-long stints.
Relevant to the recent focus on paid and unpaid web contributions, my pitch to each of them was this: I have admired and been interested in the issues you explore and the ways you discuss them. I'm going on a several-month leave from the magazine and won't be running a blog during that time. I can't offer to pay you for what I'm about to suggest, but: if it would be fun or valuable to you to be part of what is shaping up as a stellar guest team, and to to present your views and sensibility to the audience of what was then the Atlantic's "Voices" section, I hope you'll consider this opportunity.
Not everyone was interested, and one or two people who thought they could do it ended up not having the time. But an amazingly high-end group of people joined in. The full list, which I can hardly believe in retrospect, is here.
This is build-up to noting a landmark for one of those contributors. In those days he wrote as Tony Comstock. The name was a sarcastic homage to Anthony Comstock, the 19th-century postal inspector and anti-indecency crusader. This Tony Comstock made his living producing sexually explicit documentary films. In the last of his posts here, he said that he was getting ready for a change. As he put it then:
Faced with mounting evidence that my films were born of a time and circumstances that had passed, I resolved that Brett and Melanie: Boi Meets Girl would be the last film, and that it was time to move on to something else.
So what did I decide to do?
I decided to start a sustainable energy eco-tourism project in the community where I live. This project has a educational component for local school children which I hope we'll be able to provide at little or no cost. That's my attempt to skip as much of that "flinty middle stage" of life as possible and get on with the giving back part of my life while my heart still beats strong and true.
Now he writes and works under his real name, David Ryan; and this week he reached a milestone in the project announced two years ago. His Polynesian-inspired catamaran Mon Tiki, whose building he chronicles here, passed an important Coast Guard safety-certification test despite several unconventional environmentally-friendly design approaches. You can read all the details here, and see the boat below. Congratulations to him and his family.