Was Marco Polo a ‘knight’ in the court of Kublai Khan?

Put the question to foremost historian John Man and he will tell you, “Yes, it’s entirely possible. And if he was, he had good reason to hide the fact.” Man first explored this question when dealing with another: “Why the absence of the Marco Polo name from any Chinese or Persian records?” Man turns to… Read More »

The Year of the Fire Monkey

I remember standing with Jet Li in some mountainous part of China nine years ago when he transformed, before my eyes, into a monkey. As he moved about uncannily, shape-shifting and demonstrating monkey style kung fu, I tried to get a fix on the bewildering system. “No system,” he said. “With monkey, the heart leads… Read More »

PARADISE BURNING: Southeast Asian Haze the Worst in History

As schools here in Malaysia remain closed for a second day due to ‘the haze’ — a rather soft euphemism for toxic pollution coming from burning rain forest — the new issue of TIME Magazine quotes NASA as proclaiming this current event as among the worst in history. United Nations have declared this thing “an… Read More »