Please Welcome the New Team: Bennett, Chou, Comstock, Glucroft

I am very grateful to this second week's shift of guest bloggers, who have written about so many issues in such diverse ways. (For thanks to the first week's crew, click here. My gratitude extends beyond a single week!) Xujun Eberlein has presented an extraordinary historical and personal drama in five installments, with links to them all here. Bruce Holmes, who has devoted his career to managing "Sputnik moment"-style technological advances, has examined how the process does and doesn't work -- what it meant for Lewis and Clark, what it might mean futuristic transportation options. Chuck Spinney, who now mostly lives on a small sailboat in the Mediterranean but has spent his career analyzing America's strategic weaknesses and strengths, has itemized many of those. And Andrew Sprung, a professional analyst of communications and rhetoric, has talked about the connection between John Kennedy's famous tropes and our current consciousness and prospects, plus our ability to "learn" from history. Each has done more items than I am linking to here; I am grateful for them all.

Now, time for the new crew! We've had a full and complete measure of policy examinations in recent weeks. There could be a somewhat different tone and emphasis this week. Please welcome:

Lizzy Bennett, who is the online marketing manager for the Timbuk2 bag company in San Francisco. Timbuk2 is interesting not just for its design and products but also for its manufacturing strategy: it does its largely made-to-order production right in San Francisco (video here),  rather than on the other side of the Pacific. Lizzy is in the middle of various worlds -- style-conscious start-ups, social media and blog-based marketing, young San Francisco -- I am interested in but obviously not part of. She is from Santa Barbara and is a former college athlete (Stanford tennis team) and a mountain climber, as part of the 3 Peaks 3 Weeks challenge.

Ella Chou, a second-year graduate student in East Asian studies at Harvard. She was born in Hangzhou, which anyone who has visited China has heard referred to as the "most beautiful" of the country's cities (a cliche that is preferable to being called one of the "three furnaces" of China -- as Wuhan, Nanjing, and Chongqing are because of their summer weather)  and came to Beijing at age 17 for studies at the Beijing Foreign Studies University. She has worked with a variety of Chinese and international news, environmental, and civil-society organizations -- which is how I first met her in Beijing nearly three years ago --  and her ambition is to be involved in efforts combining law and social change. She too is part of various circles I am fascinated by but am not part of -- notably the very educated Chinese 20-somethings who are at ease in the wider world and have high hopes for their country. , a documentary filmmaker, whose company, Comstock Films, specializes in erotic documentaries. I have corresponded with him over the years (and quoted him here and elsewhere) about the evolving conceptions of the decent and the profane in an internet-connected age, when both state agencies and private corporations exercise the ability to censor -- and the corporate censorship is usually the less transparent of the two. He was raised on the West Coast but is now based in New York. History buffs will have guessed that his adopted professional name is an homage to Anthony Comstock, famed late-19th century leader of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.

Brian Glucroft, who has been based in in Shanghai for several years, was trained at Johns Hopkins in both cognitive science and as a musician (dual degrees in cog. sci. and in clarinet performance) and has worked mainly as a user-experience specialist for software firms, including Microsoft China. He has traveled extensively through China and -- as I hope will be part of his contributions here -- has taken remarkable photos from the parts of the country left off standard tour routes. I had corresponded with him -- about China, software, and beer -- over an extended period but first met him last year during a long day together at the Shanghai World Expo.

Welcome; thanks to this past week's group; and I turn the stage over to Lizzy, Ella, Tony, and Brian. Wait -- just before I go, let me mention this very nice item in today's NY Times Book review about the phenomenon of "dreaming" in foreign languages. It starts with an anecdote from, naturally enough, Dreaming in Chinese. Plus, go Packers! (I like Pittsburgh the city just fine, and Mike Tomlin, and the Rooneys. But between Aaron Rodgers and Big Ben? Please.)

Tony Comstock