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Where realism and idealism meet Tony Brasunas, author of Double Happiness

These are my latest posts about Double Happiness.

Where Did the Virus Come From?

I first drafted this article a month ago, and I planned to use this first paragraph as an apology for delving into one of the media’s taboo subject areas, a “debunked conspiracy theory.” Cue the scary music.

How quickly tides turn. The past month has been stunning. Rarely does such a monolithic media narrative disintegrate so quickly. We are in a “Weapons of Mass Destruction” moment. A sacrosanct pillar of a narrative justifying government power is crumbling before our eyes.

If you’re already certain about the origin of the virus, or just don’t have time to read this full investigation and timeline, you can scroll down to “The Takeaways,” where I explain what I think this news means.

As recently as the first week of May, very few people in establishment media or mainstream politics were talking about the origin of the virus. It was a forbidden topic as it had been for the entirety of 2020. The mainstream media called it a “fringe” “conspiracy theory.” Vaunted “fact-checkers” called it a pants-on-fire lie. Just asking basic questions about the origin of sars-cov-2 got journalists, doctors, and entire independent media sources deplatformed, censored, demonetized, or “fact-checked” as liars and kooks.

Things have changed in a splendid hurry. It’s fascinating, and I think it’s essential to understand what this means for our understanding of the world today.


The two theories for the origin of this virus are the “lab leak hypothesis” and the “natural zoonotic hypothesis.” We could compare the evidence for the two, but at this point there is so much evidence for the former and so little for the latter, it’s not a fair fight. What I’ve decided instead is to write up and share a timeline that demonstrates how I and many others arrived at what I believe is about 90% certainty on the origin of this virus.


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Posted in Double Happiness
by Tony Brasunas at 12:57 pm on June 24, 2021

Giveaway: Double Happiness Nearly Free New Year’s Week

A Journey across China and through the Soul of a Young American

Double Happiness: “A journey across China and through the soul of a young American”

This week, entering the new year, and through January 15, as a celebration of human potential and possibility, and as a gift to you or to a friend, the book is (nearly) free.

There is a nominal shipping cost for the paperback and a special $.99 price for the e-book.

(While supplies last).

How to Get Double Happiness

Simply click this link to get the book:

>> Get Double Happiness <<

(Formats available: e-book, audiobook, and paperback.)

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Posted in Double Happiness
by Tony Brasunas at 11:27 am on January 5, 2017

Double Happiness Free on New Year’s Weekend

A journey across China and through the soul of a young American

Double Happiness: “A journey across China and through the soul of a young American”

Starting tonight, and all weekend, including Monday, on the anniversary of its publication, as a gift to all the great people I’ve met this year and as a celebration of human potential and possibility, the book will be free in all formats: e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

(While supplies last, and with a tiny shipping cost for the paperback and hardcover since those will be physically mailed to you).

How to Get Double Happiness

Simply click this link after midnight on December 30 to get the book:

>> Get Double Happiness <<
(All formats still available.)

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Posted in Double Happiness
by Tony Brasunas at 4:25 pm on December 30, 2016

Triple Happiness: Giving away Double Happiness in Gratitude

A Chinese bridge between worlds

Next week, as a celebration of the anniversary of its publication, and as a gift to all the great people I’ve met this year as part of the peaceful political revolution, Double Happiness will be free in all formats: e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

(While supplies last of course, and there will be a nominal shipping cost for the paperback and hardcover since those will be physically mailed to you).

Double Happiness is my life-changing story of teaching and traveling in China, of exploring a foreign world and discovering my own heart and mind. The messages are adventure, international understanding, and personal discovery. My hope is that this story and these message will be useful and welcome for you or those in your community as we move on from this troubling election season and into the work that we need to do to create a world of peace and prosperity for all.

Consider this a small token of my appreciation.

If you’re taking part in the Peaceful Revolution here in the United States and around the world, thank you for your beautiful work this year, for inspiring me to do more, and for the promise of what we can do together.

Logistics on getting the book will be straightforward, and I’ll post here next week, as well as on facebook and twitter. UPDATE: See below.

How to Get Double Happiness

To get the book, simply go to this page at Torchpost, after midnight on December 30, and all weekend:

Double Happiness 
(This page will have all formats.)

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Posted in Double Happiness
by Tony Brasunas at 1:18 pm on December 23, 2016



“Do you want to tickle the dragon?”

My father was calling up to me. I was curled near the ceiling in a carpeted cubby he had built as a loft space. Lying on my belly like a snake, I sorted golden rivets into piles: long, yellow brass ones; shorter, reddish copper ones; dull, gray steel ones. It was fun and important work, but I could never resist tickling the dragon.

I climbed down the ladder and stepped onto the sooty concrete floor. The smell of coal hung in the air around my father’s brick forge. I grabbed hold of the wooden peg on the giant black wheel and pulled it down. The wheel began to turn. Because I wasn’t tall enough, I let the wheel spin the peg back up, and I caught it again as it came down, pulling again so the wheel began to turn faster. Heat radiated in intensifying waves from the hole in the center of the forge, and embers of hot orange and gold flew from the hole. The dragon was breathing!

“That’s it,” said my father. “Good. He’s awake.” In iron tongs he clutched a long piece of black steel that maybe, finally, he would make into a sword instead of a horseshoe, triangle, or fancy gate.

But I had to watch from above. He sent me back up to the loft, and I let my head hang over the edge so that I could watch as my father held the steel in the dragon’s breath. The fierce heat now exhaled constantly and turned the steel purple, red, orange, and finally a bright golden white. The flames held my gaze. Is there really a dragon down there, under the concrete floor? I wondered. Does it actually eat the coal we give it every morning?

He pinched the white-hot steel with the tongs, set it on the anvil, and with a heavy iron hammer, he struck the glowing metal, once, twice, three times, and sparks flew: Long, hairy fragments of orange shot everywhere in an inverted waterfall of light.


This was the end of the 1970s, on a commune in West Virginia. Twelve years earlier, before becoming a blacksmith, my father had been one of the first long-haired hippies at MIT in Boston. He swore he would never wear a tie, and he leapt into the civil rights and peace movements that were sweeping through the country like wildfire.

Soon he changed course and elected a more personal path to fixing the world. With the woman who would become my mother, he traveled to England and lived for a year in a spiritual community west of Oxford. They learned meditation techniques from the community’s leader, John G. Bennett, a wise and well-traveled man. Bennett determined that the time had come to start a community in the United States, and an estate called Claymont, in West Virginia, with four hundred acres of hilly forests and fertile farmland, was chosen for the purpose. At Claymont, my father turned an old concrete storehouse into a forge while my mother worked in the bookstore and the vegetable gardens. I helped in the forge and attended the three-room school, studying math, French, and art in the mornings alongside the two dozen other children; in the afternoons, our teachers would take us into the loam-smelling woods or down to the gurgling waters of the fish farm.

After a mere nine years, the commune faltered, rudderless. Bennett’s unexpected death had robbed the experiment of its visionary, and efforts to replace his leadership had largely proven fruitless. My parents had ushered my sister and brother into the world, and they consulted an astrologer for a new path. “Telecommunications” was divined in my father’s future, and he concocted a short resume, tied a tie to his neck, and landed a phone company job in a nearby town.

I went a different way, breaking with my strange hippie parents and attending a faraway college, exploring a freshness I found in political and cultural conservatism. But the dragon-breath that I fanned as a young boy I had also lit deep inside me, and an interest in travel, a love of languages, and a curiosity about China that my father, through his secondary role as the school’s occasional geography teacher, smoldered in me – and these coals did not die. Math, computer science, and, finally, Chinese drew and held my attention. After my college graduation, I left the United States for the first time. I flew alone to the other side of the planet, and at twenty-two arrived in China with but a few bags and a handful of wild expectations.

The year was 1997, just before international travel became dominated by the omniscience of smart phones, ATMs, and email – before Google, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, and the technologies that would replace them, before the ubiquity of blogs on every imaginable subject. In China, it was an exhilarating and confusing time. The nation’s political isolation was thawing rapidly but unevenly: Many towns and regions were open, but others remained verboten to foreigners, and the motives of Americans in particular were suspect. The excitement was palpable: Hong Kong was reverting to Chinese rule after 157 years of British colonialism, the economy was heating up like a blacksmith’s forge, a building boom featuring modern glass and steel was transforming cities small and large, and formidable international honor from things like the Olympics had become more than a gleam in the eye of well-placed officials. It was before 9-11, before the “War on Terror,” before American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; in many ways it was a simpler time for Americans to travel. In every other respect it was just like today.


The steel glowed in the flames as if coated with honey-hued neon. My father pulled it out and flipped it over on the anvil.

High-pitched notes rang off the walls as his hammer pounded, metal-on-metal. Sparks leapt through the air, danced across the floor, vanished. Slowly the steel cooled under the transformative blows.

Could it be? I watched the steel flatten, lengthen, darken.

He dipped the steel into a barrel of water beside the anvil, sending clouds of steam hissing into the air. He motioned that I could climb down.

“Are you making a sword?” I asked.

“What else are you going to be carrying – if you find a dragon that isn’t friendly?”

I stepped towards the blade.

“Let it cool,” he said, a hand on my shoulder. “It will be yours soon.”

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Posted in Double Happiness | Manuscript Excerpts
by Tony Brasunas at 8:46 am on December 23, 2016

Something New: Calligraphy

Working on Chinese calligraphy name posters

Trying something new is a humbling experience. It’s also one of the ways we feel alive. The “beginner mind” we experience when we do something for the first time is a combination of the pleasure we get as our brain wires new neural pathways and the awkwardness our body feels doing something new.

I recently tried Chinese calligraphy, and it was an intimidating and sublime experience.

I’ve been writing Chinese characters — at least occasionally — ever since my first Mandarin class at Amherst in 1994. But calligraphy is a different animal entirely.

In China, calligraphy is truly a revered art form, a practice of creating beauty that is as highly regarded as painting or music. Great calligraphers throughout Chinese history have become famous throwing themselves into painting poetry with strokes that evoke the full range of human emotion.

I was after a more modest goal. I wanted to create name posters for some of the early supporters of Double Happiness.Chinese calligraphy name posters

First, I devised a name for each person I wanted to honor. I chose common (more…)

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Posted in Double Happiness
by Tony Brasunas at 1:55 pm on January 30, 2016