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Gongshi

Spirit Stones
Mountains are the Earth’s hourglass. Living rocks rising and falling with the years, morphing, congealing, and shaping into one another to create the rocks and sands of the shore. 

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Storytelling by Smell

Great storytellers create a world without seams in which the suspension of disbelief on the reader's part leads to a mirroring of the real world, and thus to one of the great tenets of art as Pablo Picasso once put it: "Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth."

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Double Ninth

The ninth day of the ninth month is the Double Ninth, and has been an important celebration all over Asia since 25 AD. Nine is a lucky number in China, and bears a similar pronunciation as "forever" or "everlasting." The number nine appears throughout Chinese history, and many Ancient Chinese emperors built temples, walls, and rooms in multiples of nine (for instance, The Forbidden City in Beijing has a total of 9,999 rooms, with number of stairs in staircases being nine or a multiple of nine, and the height of the three great halls were 9 Zhang and 9 Chi). But everyone who has ever played around with luck knows that it is closely tied to danger. The I Ching shows nine as a number of the Yang, being both masculine and in opposition to the feminine yin, and an odd number that signifies danger.

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United Nations Day

Tuesday, October 24th marks United Nations Day and the 72nd anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter in 1945. With the ratification of this founding document by most of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the United Nations was established.

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Money Talks

Whether your wish list includes a luxurious hour indulging at the local spa or a weekend getaway to some exotic destination, money is necessary for making most dreams take flight. As the popular expression says, “Money makes the world go ’round.”

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Building a Wall

Internet Censorship Worldwide
The Information Age has impacted the way we navigate our lives, from how we work to how we communicate and shop. The Internet has become a necessary tool for many worldwide, but remains off limits to a vast number of people.

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Character Development

One billion people--or about 15 percent--of the world’s population experience some form of disability. Disability prevalence is higher for developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one-fifth of the estimated global total—or between 110 million and 190 million people—experience significant disabilities.

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Beer Here!

Many people around the globe clink glasses with other revelers when drinking beer or other spirits. Drinking beer, wine, cocktails, and spirits is a means of celebration and part of socializing. Whether we say cheers, salute, slainte, or kanpai, we should understand the history behind beer.

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Here Be Dragons

Dinosaur Fossils
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Second Sight

From ancient myths to fairy tales to religious prophecies to tales of the occult, literature revels in exploration of psychic powers, also known as the second sight or farsight.

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Buttons

Who, What, When, Wear
The ubiquitous button, that practical and sometimes fancy fastener of clothing, survives largely unchanged from ancient times. As early as 2000 BC, buttons were used as ornaments in the Indus Valley and as seals during the Bronze Age in China and in ancient Rome. Their use as clothing fasteners first appeared in 13th century Germany, slowly replacing laces and ties as fashions for snugly fitting clothing spread. Buttons soon combined utility and ornamentation, a dual purpose that continues to this day.

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The Boss of Me

Myriad periodicals, both printed and digital, offer tips on best management practices to hire, train, and retain good employees. Many of them come in the form of listicles and direct their messages to executive management and supervisory personnel.

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A Kinder, Gentler Diet

The invention of modern refrigeration and food preservation techniques enable many people to enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a well-balanced diet, regardless of season. This modern development allows for people to forego the slaughter of animals to acquire the necessary protein in their diets.

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Happily Ever After

Long derided as the lowest form of literature, the genre of romance covers a wide spectrum of sub-genres, including historical, paranormal, fantasy, contemporary, “chick lit,” and more. What readers, writers, publishers, and reviewers fail to acknowledge is that romance shows up in every fiction genre. The difference is that the romantic relationship serves as the fulcrum for the story within the romance genre: it’s the focus of the story, not an ancillary subplot.

In July 2016, the Association of American Publishers released a report stating that the U.S. publishing industry generated nearly $28 billion in revenue in 2015, representing 2.71 billion units. 

That doesn’t tell the whole story. The Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) presentation published on July 15, 2016, by Author Earnings reports total book sales of 748 million units in 2015. Fiction comprised 88 percent of books sold, with 31 percent of fiction book sales allotted to the romance genre alone. 

We can parse the numbers further. The RWA reports that the romance genre claimed 4.4 percent of Nielsen Bookscan units and 45 percent of Amazon.com paid units--and that sales within the romance genre are underreported. The RWA also asserts that 89 percent of romance book sales are digital, less than 50 percent are self-published books, and 67 percent of all U.S. romance sales are not tracked by any traditional industry metric. The RWA offers informative statistics regarding the genre’s strength.

No matter how you break down the numbers, sales reports by genre show that romance is the largest selling genre in both ink and digital formats. 
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Hidden Identities

Pseudonyms
It was a truism that a respectable woman’s name was published only three times during her life: upon the occasions of her birth, marriage, and death. Especially for the upper classes, seeing one’s name in print meant scandal and the ruin of a good reputation. Coupled with the prevailing attitude of feminine inferiority and institutional discrimination against women, no scientific or academic organization would consider, much less publish, a scholarly treatise authored by a woman.

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Navigating Society

Manners
Love or money may make the world go ’round, but manners grease the gears. Every culture around the globe creates an elaborate system of etiquette that determines an orderly formula of behavior. This knowledge of social interaction inspires confidence and shows at least a basic level of care and respect for others. With his usual pithy wit, Oscar Wilde is credited with saying, “A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.” He meant, of course, that a gentleman (or lady) who insulted another person did so with intention.

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Aiming High

Many cities worldwide are renowned for their iconic skyscrapers, once defined as tall, multi-story, commercial buildings built mainly in New York City and Chicago between 1884 and 1939.

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Awaiting Autumn

After a long, steamy summer, many welcome the cool, crisp, refreshing days of autumn. They are eager to swap their casual shorts and tees for cozy sweaters, knit scarves, and chic boots.

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Celebrate the International Day of Peace

Throughout history, alliances among nations have called for peace. For most, that meant conquering other countries and bringing them under a single ruler. Such efforts often testifies less to notions of peace and tolerance and more to the greed, corruption, and megalomania of certain rulers. The great empires of history come to mind, some more tolerant than others and most ruled by a culture or people who deemed themselves superior over those whom they ruled.  

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Comic Innovators

The comic form is both a stepping stone from and towards the cinematic form, the glue between genres, a blending and a reimagining. But the genre term comic is antiquated and, broadly speaking, inaccurate. It implies the comedic, silly, and whimsical. And while there are certainly these types of comic strips around today, one divergent form has evolved into the graphic novel, which in many ways could become the new modern novel.

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