Geez, no wonder the harems are places of politics and intrigue! 2000 women, cooped up with (at least according to popular depictions) nothing to do, but if they can attract his attention they can have the ear of the Emperor. Or they can have nothing. Yikes. Talk about catty!(pg 50)
I'm neither a student of economics or of Chinese history, but it seems to me that history is beginning to repeat itself:
Rulers paid tribute to China in return for trading privileges and protection against their enemies, but China always gave its trading partners a greater value of goods -- silks and porcelain at discounted prices, often funded by soft loans -- than was received from them. They were thus in perpetual debt to China. (page 52, emphasis added)
The Chinese preferred to pursue their aims by trade, influence and bribery rather than by open conflict and direct colonization. (page 60)
We keep hearing about how China has become a major purchaser of American national debt. Looks like this preference for having other nations in debt to them is a well-established policy. And why not? Any country that we owe money to has that to hold over our heads! "Do what we want or we'll make you pay up." No wonder the dollar is weak. Surely there is a lesson here to be learned: PAY OUR DEBTS!
So, my first question is that since the Chinese have been tracking this comet since before Christ (page 55), why in the world is it named after a 17th Century Englishman?? In any case, the information in Wikipedia about Halley's Comet is pretty interesting. I remember its visit in 1986. But I don't know that I should plan on making it as long as 2061 to see the next visit. And this comet is a "short period" comet!