James Fallows

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
  • Early "slippery slope" contender

    Many fine entries in hand; keep them coming.  One line of reasoning predominates, well illustrated by this submission:

    "Birth consistently leads to death.  There are often events of interest to someone between the two.  Aside from fairy tales, I know of no more reliably consistent slippery slope.

    "More pop into my head, but following on their heels are exceptions.

    "Here is a chain of events for you:

    "Birth leads to toilet training.  Toilet Training leads to puberty. Puberty leads to adulthood.  Adulthood leads to death.  Of course, it isn't entirely consistent given that some do not achieve all steps."

    More later.

  • Political rhetoric question/contest: "slippery slopes"

    Due no doubt to the few years I spent producing political rhetoric and the many decades I have spent ingesting it, I'm obsessed with endlessly interested in the connection between the words we use about public life and the decisions we make and attitudes we hold. For instance, that's the point behind the "God bless America!" or "boiled frog" watch. These are cases where language actually takes the place of thought. Yes, I realize that I'm not the first person to have noticed this connection. Indeed in my GBA/frog campaigns I am remiss in not having quoted Rule #1 from the modern classic work on the misuse of language in political discourse:

    "1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print."

    Which leads to this open question, suggested by reader Webster Marquez:

    "The health care debate (and, indeed, the debate around Obama's and Democrats' agenda) is filled with rhetoric about "slippery slopes." To wit: health care reform => government takeover => tsarist communism! Somehow!

    "Can you find any examples of a slippery slope argument actually bearing out? A leads to B, which leads to C, all the way to Z?

    "How is it that an argument that is considered a "classic informal fallacy" (per Wikipedia, but I remember this family of concepts from college philosophy) is given so much currency across the media and political spectrum?"

    slippery.png

    Although the finest and most famous example of pure slippery-slope rhetoric is Ronald Reagan's renowned 1961 broadcast about the risks of socialized medicine, it's worth noting that this reasoning can be applied from any part of the political spectrum.  Eg: Patriot Act => elimination of civil liberties => fascism in America. Just this morning I heard a representative of ACORN used the "criticism of us => return of McCarthyism" form of the argument. Similarly, most objections to the Obama Administration's decision to cancel European missile-defense plans concern not the Czech/Polish sites themselves but the "sign of weakness => encourage agressors => appeasement brings on Another Hitler" concept.  (Image from here.)

    I know that for some people, Mr. Marquez's question is too easy to answer. If you think we already live in Fascist Amerika, or that it's been a one-way trip down the road to moral collapse since [Elvis Presley, the Miranda ruling, choose your starting point], real life is a living confirmation of slippery-slopeism. But as a de-politicized, purely analytical question, I wonder what the best real-world example of this phenomenon is. To be clear, we're talking about a situation where one step leads unavoidably to another -- in which people end up with Consequence Z, which they never would have chosen, purely because they took initial steps A and B. Almost as if they started down a slope, and began to slip, and then...    Nominations welcomed; results will be announced.

  • Discussion with John Podesta at Gov 2.0 conference

    Last week Tim O'Reilly held his debut "Gov 2.0" conference in Washington. All the parts I saw were interesting and provocative. For a list of clips, podcasts, and so on, go here. For the record, here is a clip of a session I did with John Podesta, former Clinton White House chief of staff and now head of the Center for American Progress. We decided to do it as a split-shift Q-and-A: first, improbably, he asked me questions, and then I asked him some. We ran out of time before I could get many details on something I really wanted to know about: what it was like to spend time with Kim Jong Il, when Podesta accompanied Bill Clinton to North Korea this summer.

     

    Seriously, the conference was a valuable series of presentations, worth perusing especially if you're feeling blue about the general tone of American political "discussion" these days and the fecklessness of many public efforts.

    A nice place to start is with this presentation by Carl Malamud, whose efforts to open public data to (gasp) the public I've often noted over the years. I return to the theme: we take our encouragement where we can find it.

  • "God bless Precinct 8"

    Courtesy of a reader in Texas who has my undying gratitude:

    "State Rep. Kino Flores, D-Palmview, said today he will not seek re-election.

    "The announcement comes two months after he was indicted by a Travis County grand jury. He is accused of omitting hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of income from financial statements that elected officials are required to file with the state...... 

    " 'As my former boss, the late Bob Bullock, used to say, he left Texas better than it was,' Flores said in the press release. 'Well, as anyone can see, there is no doubt that I will leave House District 36 better than it was. God bless Texas, and God bless District 36.'"

    On the other hand, I regret to announce that a previous dispatch scoffing at the idea that John Adams, rather than Ronald Reagan, had started the country down this unfortunate rhetorical path seems to have been, ummm, flat wrong. Several readers wrote in to make this point. Let me give the microphone to Joshua Friedman, who adduces actual historical evidence:

    "Abigail Adams wrote a letter to John on July 21, 1776, describing her experience of hearing the Declaration of Independence read aloud from the balcony of the Massachusetts State House. 'As soon as [it] ended," she writes, 'the cry from the balcony was, "God save our American States," and then three cheers which rended the air. The bells rang, the privateers fired, the forts and batteries, the cannon were discharged, the platoons followed, and every face appeared joyful.'
    "Robert C. Winthrop quoted the line three times in his centennial address of July 4, 1876. 'The patriot voice, which cried from the balcony of yonder old State House, when the Declaration had been originally proclaimed "stability and perpetuity to American independence," did not fail to add "God save our American states." I would prolong that ancestral prayer. And the last phrase to pass my lips at this hour, and to take its chance for remembrance or oblivion in years to come, as the conclusion of this centennial oration, and as the sum and summing up, of all I can say to the present or the future, shall be:--there is, there can be, no independence of God: in Him, as a nation, no less than in Him, as individuals, "we live, and move, and have our being! God save our American States!" ' "

    Oh well. Soon we'll see photos of James K. Polk with an American-flag pin in his lapel (something you didn't see FDR, Eisenhower, even Ronald Reagan doing). So in the spirit of Kino Flores, and on behalf of my current site of residence, and in lieu of a "real" ending sentence, let me say: God bless the District of Columbia, and God bless Precinct 8!

    More »

  • Better news: 'Hawk and Dove'

    Nicholas Thompson's new book The Hawk and the Dove has received admiring reviews and was the subject of a wonderful feature story this past weekend in the New York Times. It's a very good work -- not least because it takes a gamble on a "high concept" for the book, and pulls it off.

    hawk-190.jpg

    Actually there are two high concepts here. One is that a paired biography of two often-contending figures of the Cold War era -- Paul Nitze and George Kennan (left and right, respectively, in the photo, often with the opposite orientation in their policies) -- will work in literary and intellectual terms. The other is that the author's relationship to one of the subjects -- Nitze was his grandfather -- will give him extra insight without warping his perspective. It succeeds on both counts.

    Nicholas Thompson is 34 years old; I first met him a dozen years ago, when he was part of a student group pressuring US News to change its benighted college-ranking system. (I was then US News' editor. Story for another time.) Since then he has worked for great magazines -- the Washington Monthly, Legal Affairs, now Wired -- and been part of the New America Foundation. With all the woes of journalism, it's encouraging to see ambitious and talented people giving it their best.

  • Sad news: Jody Powell

    I had intended to finish up a big "how to think about the Chinese tire tariff" item, when instead I heard the news that Jody Powell had died. This is sad in its own right, and when coupled with the death last year of Hamilton Jordan is unexpectedly poignant. Jimmy Carter, who will soon turn 85, is in the position every parent dreads, that of outliving the children.

    Powell and Jordan were of course only virtual children to Carter, slightly older than his real offspring and having a work-centered relationship with him. But they'd driven with him across Georgia in the early days and to fund raisers and stump speeches when he was starting his improbable run for the presidency. In the public imagination they survive as the jaunty young characters -- "jaunty" to their friends, "cocky" to their detractors -- they were when Carter took office, as captured in the classic Rolling Stone cover published 32 years ago. (Media fans: click on the cover for a larger version, and study all the names there.)

    RollingStone.jpgMy own relations with Powell were often tense during the campaign and the two years I spent in the White House. He was de facto overall boss of the speechwriting operation, and -- in contrast to the Reagan or Obama administrations -- speeches were often a source of public disappointment and therefore of internal disagreement and friction. Reporters generally respected his intelligence, his toughness, his honesty, his hard-bitten sense of humor, and his unparalleled knowledge of the President's mind, manner, and temper. Long after the Carter team had left office, I came to a much more positive relationship with Powell. This was especially so after each of us had published books on what was wrong with the press. His is here.



    Powell and Jordan, paired 30 years ago by their precocious achievement and now paired again by death in their 60s, were much better and more admirable human beings than the standard Washington view held. Jordan, gentler and more thoughtful. Powell tremendously loyal and intelligent and honorable, and a devoted husband and father.

    I can't help noting Carter's statement on Powell's death, as reported by the Washington Post:
    "I could always depend on his advice and counsel being candid and direct." That would have made Powell give one of his tight grins, because it's Carter's way of saying: He wouldn't hesitate to tell me when I was screwing up.

    UPDATE: The main site for Powell Tate, the public relations firm Jody Powell co-founded, now has a tribute page for him, with statements from friends and colleagues and details about services.

  • Our second president on "God Bless America"

    As noted here more than a few times (eg this), U.S. presidents before Ronald Reagan did not end their major addresses with "God Bless America!" to indicate "The speech is now over, and I'm not going to bother thinking of a real concluding sentence." Presidents from Reagan onward have used the phrase in an "Amen!" sense. The anonymous author of the Jotman blog writes in with new historico-linguistic evidence, of the biopic variety:

    "In a recent post you complained -- yet again -- "about the trite hackneyedvacuousportento-pious lazy comforting and beloved three-word ending for all presidential addresses since the time of Ronald Reagan: 'God bless America!'" 

    "You are clearly mistaken.  If I may set the record straight...

    "The "God bless America" tradition did not begin with Reagan.  In fact, the tradition goes all the way back to the the first reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. 

    "The proof is on video.  Watch this YouTube clip from about the 6:00 mark until 6:40 and you will see what I mean."


    Then Jotman moves out of sarcastic mode:

    "P.S.  Of course, Americans of the founding generation weren't such ninnies.  They would not have sought  "comfort" in such a banality as this phrase.   The inclusion of this modern abomination not only ruined the whole scene for for me, it also broke the "historical spell."  I no longer believed I was watching a serious attempt to portray events as they might have actually have happened in 1776.  The director lost my trust.   Actually, hearing the phrase misused in a historical drama irritated me exponentially more than having to listen to any modern American politician.   It's one thing when politicians help to ruin the American character of the present generation through repetition of a lousy rhetorical innovation, but it's far worse when the custodians of American culture project our flaws backward in time; when they make it appear as if the lamest, most pathetic inventions of our own times have deep historical roots. 

    "It's a slippery slope.  At this rate, some future documentary about the Revolutionary War is bound to include a water-boarding scene. Or show Alexander Hamilton founding Homeland Security in 1790."

    After the jump, a Marine combat veteran with thoughts on patriotism.

    A reader in Washington state writes:

    "God Bless America" et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...............      I love my country. I've traveled the world over and there isn't a place I'd rather live 'warts and all'. But really isn't this phrase starting to get a little over used??? Just like the theater of bringing "Poster People" to your major speeches to pull them out as props. Can't we bury this Reagan ploy too???

    "I fought as a combat Marine in Vietnam. My father and father-in-law were career and senior Army Officers. I worked as a Federal civilian employee for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for nearly 37 years. My wife and mother-in-law had equally long careers as Federal employees. We are ALL PATRIOTS. But I must say, I'm getting a little tired of "God Bless this and that". The more I hear it the more disingenuous it sounds. Perhaps it's me and at the ripe old age of 62 I've become a little jaded, but I say enough's enough - use it when it is really needed and heartfelt, NOT just as a filler."

    Tell it to John Adams!

    More »

  • Right of fair reply: Apple, Adobe, Broomfield

    Several days ago, in the finale to a nerds-only discussion that began with a discussion of whether Apple's new "Snow Leopard" used "huge pages" and 64-bit code, I quoted several readers who didn't want their names used. They were objecting to previous comments by someone who had used his name, Ken Broomfield. He reasonably asks for the chance to defend his views. Below and after the jump, his reply, which fundamentally has to do with what he considers lapdog coverage of Apple in the press:

    "The bigger point that animates me (and which only applies a little to the Ars article) is that coverage of Apple and a lot of the popular tech press in general is pretty fawning or fluffy. (Have you seen the David Pogue kerfuffle?) It's a bit like the debate over healthcare reform: the details are complicated and the history poorly understood, so people often fall back on tribal affiliations (especially in the Church of Appleology).

    "The full story on 64-bit apps is even less complimentary to Apple.
    "When Apple first announced 64-bit support in OS X, they said that the old Mac APIs -- the "Carbon" interfaces that programs use to talk to MacOS -- would be fully updated to support 64-bit programs. Photoshop and a lot of other major applications are Carbon-rich, so this was very important. Then late in the day, Apple reversed itself and said Carbon would not be completely updated, creating major headaches for third-party developers. Imagine an editor, a month before deadline, telling you to rewrite large parts of a book in Afrikaans.

    "There are two possible reasons Apple changed its mind: the historic shortcomings of Carbon, which are considerable, made it too technically difficult or costly; or Apple was capriciously moving developers to the new, better interfaces, called "Cocoa." Either possibility is embarrassing. Moving complex software like Photoshop to Cocoa is a major, hugely expensive undertaking, because huge swathes of code that run its user-interface will have to be rewritten, tested, etc. And this is happening right after the same engineers (and many others) went through the pain of moving to a very different tool set to support Intel processor-based Macs.

    "I have no interest in platform wars -- all OSes suck in particular ways, as you know -- but Windows doesn't confront developers with anything approaching this kind of discontinuity to take advantage of 64-bit processing. The APIs that programs have used since Windows 95 have been seamlessly widened to 64 bits, and in most cases, you can just recompile code without changes. This is why 64-bit Photoshop is out now on Windows, while Macs will have to wait. This is important to high-end photo and film people who use Photoshop and other digital media tools, since they bump their heads on the 4GB limits of 32-bit software. Meanwhile, Apple started hyping 64-bit computing years ago, declaring that OS X was on the leading edge, which, gosh darn it, was kinda true in a sorta Palin-bridge-to-nowhere way.

    "Microsoft's programmers, for all their mistakes, designed the Windows APIs to avoid problems in areas like this. The original Mac developers, for all the amazing work they did, architected the original Mac APIs ways that guaranteed many problems. Apple has been very busy jettisoning backward compatibility -- e.g., the MacOS 9 compatibility mode was abandoned on Intel-based Macs, disappointing plenty of people with old software -- and creaking plumbing like this is a major reason. (Virtualization would seem to be the solution to the MacOS 9 problem.)

    "Apple's treatment of third party developers (and other faithful) is not always very kind, and in a way it's a testament to the good stuff they create that developers willingly go through the wringer on things like 64-bit support, the move to Intel processors, the move to OS X, the move to PowerPC processors, backward-compatibility problems aplenty, etc."

    Ken Broomfield
    Wymea Bay
    www.irider.com

    More »

  • Another traveler to Yunnan

    In my story in the current issue about Xizhou, a small but historically prosperous and architecturally rich village in far southern China, I mention the cautionary example of the city of Lijiang. In the 1990s, Lijiang was also small and charming. Now, most foreign visitors instantly recognize it as a combination of Atlantic City, a discount mall, and a turnpike rest stop. The Chinese domestic tourism industry, which is developing very fast, is in the stage where it is processing huge numbers of necessarily low-end travelers. As sites become popular, many of them end up looking like Lijiang. That's the fate the friends of Xizhou are trying to avoid.

    KKLijiang.jpg

    Kevin Kelly, "Senior Maverick" at Wired, has traveled widely in Asia, including to both Lijiang and Xizhou. That's his picture of "old" Lijiang, to the left. His account:

    "Every regular visitor to China has their own story of headsnapping change. Mine has to do with Lijiang. I first visited Lijiang in the mid 90s on a month-long trip with my two daughters who were 8 and 10 at the time. Lijiang was our starting point for an excursion into the north beyond what is now called Shangrila (Zhongdian back then) into the Tibetan areas around Litang. I've spent a lot of time in the Himalaya and so was quite taken by Lijiang. It seemed to have everything a Shangrila was supposed to -- views, climate, music, and a strong unique, even isolated, culture. One could see how the fantasy began there. I wanted to return with my wife and son someday.


    "Fast forward to about 3 years ago when we had a chance to return as a family. We flew in to save time. I was very excited so we set out the old town that evening. It was like a nightmare. I'd go down streets I was sure were cozy meandering residential alleys and they were now throbbing strips of discos. It was like that scene in Wonderful Life when James Bailey returns to "Potterville" his old town now a bunch of speakeasies and card joints. Only here there was blaring music and bus-loads, no maybe plane loads of drunk Chinese mobs staggering on the cobblestones. I was nauseous with grief, disorientation, fury, and sadness all rolled into one.

    "I've been around too long, seen too many "spoiled" icons that I actually enjoyed, to complain that "they ruined" it, but the next morning when waves of thousands of tourists shuffled through the tiny streets, I felt in fact that they did ruin Lijiang. It's not a city like Venice, or Jerusalem, or closer to home Katmandu that can absorb the crowds, it was a very tiny working village that must now become a museum. I would not want to be the mayor of Lijiang (whom I did meet). It would be an impossible job. There is no way on earth to remain a cozy town and become one of the prime tourist destinations for a billion people.  Lijiang had to change.

    "But still there are better ways to do the impossible, and worse ways. The transformation happened in only 15 years. Speed was part of the problem. You are right to hold up Lijiang as a cautionary tale for Xizhou. Learn from Lijiang."

    More »

  • If you thought the Olympic opening ceremony was impressive...

    ... just wait for the parades and public ceremonies in Beijing on October 1, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

    For the past few months I've heard from university contacts in China about students being marshaled for long drill sessions before the massed exercises for the 60th anniversary celebrations. Courtesy of Glenn Mott, this slide show (text in Chinese) of soldiers, police, and others getting ready for the big day. Eg, soldiers being checked with tape measures and plumb lines to be sure they're standing straight.

    Sohu1.jpg


    More pictures in the same vein, from Sohu, here -- for instance:
     
    Img266632378.jpg

    I can't emphasize enough how much this is not the way most Chinese life seems most of the time. The main mental pictures I recall are people doing their own thing, in their own way, with only reluctant and enforced attention to the "rules." But, as with the Olympics, it is certainly the face that official China wants to present -- even if the effect is to make foreigners unrealistically alarmed about a big, single-minded, perfectly-organized Rising China emerging to crush all in its path. Since so many of the people working in unison on October 1 will be actual soldiers carrying weapons, the international fluster effect will be all the greater. Check out the two minute video here (sometimes slow to load) from the 50th Anniversary commemorations ten years ago, for the general idea.

    If I were a US defense contractor, I'd show that video at every Congressional hearing about the "Chinese threat." But since, as always, the Chinese government cares a million times more about looking strong, successful, and in control to its own people than about whatever foreigners might think, we'll soon see endless waves of goosestepping soldiers. Then life will get back to normal.

  • From the magazine: Field of dreams in China

    The new issue of the Atlantic is worth reading cover to cover -- and IMHO better read on paper than on line. For sometime soon: talking systematically about what kind of material is best read, scanned, absorbed, enjoyed in what kinds of media - handheld, computer screen, "real" print, Kindle-style reader, and so on.

    For the moment, a mention of my own very short article in this issue: a profile of an American family that has ended up in one of the most beautiful parts of China, trying -- against considerable odds -- to put together a coalition of local residents, Communist party officials, businesses, and NGOs to preserve traditional Chinese culture against the onslaught of kitsch-style development otherwise transforming the country's look. Their adopted home town is Xizhou, in the lush, southerly Yunnan province, and this is one view of their "Linden Centre," with local kids biking by.

    IMG_7209.JPG

    More on Brian and Jeanee Linden and their ambitions here, and a four-minute narrated slideshow of the town, the center, the family, and the challenge is below (or here). That is Brian Linden, who first became known in China 25 years ago when cast in a movie about a famous and tragic US-Chinese interaction, in blue jeans and white shirt in the opening shot below.
     

    If you can make your way to Yunnan, this is very much worth a visit. Below a look at "downtown" Xizhou this spring, with the bean harvest being threshed.

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    From a terrace in the Linden Centre.

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  • September 11

    Some of the Atlantic's articles from the past eight years, collected here, stand up well as assessments of the moment and its aftermath. As a way to return to the mood, the reactions, the unity, and the incipient disagreements of the attacks on September 11, 2001, William Langewiesche's American Ground will be studied and admired for a long time.

    If you're looking for thematic readings today, you could do very well with the links on this page -- not simply the four articles in the center of the page but the six others in the "From the Archives" column.

    The newspaper story that struck me most today was this one, by N.R. Kleinfield in the New York Times: "A Fortress City that Didn't Come To Be." Its subject is New York, and it explains how, despite its unprecedented loss and trauma, the city recovered not just its vitality but also its deeper sense of balance. It decided to go ahead as a live, open, and inevitably still-vulnerable city, rather than surviving hunkered down, as an armed camp. Having visited New York only once since moving back to the country, I am struck by how much lower is its level of "security theater" than what prevails in Washington. Usually I regard New York as an interesting variation on "normal" American life, rather than as an example to the rest of us. I think in this case it has been the most American part of the country.

  • Two quick updates: flu in China, 64-bit code

    Flu: Over the months, I have frequently remarked on the difference between the Chinese government's approach to H1N1/swine flu and that of many other countries. Difference in brief: the Chinese government has applied sweeping quarantine measures to try to keep the disease out of the country and then to limit its spread; many other countries have viewed the spread as more or less unavoidable and have tried to cope with the consequences.

    Thumbnail image for Quarantine.jpg

    (Photo from this previous post, about visiting Americans quarantined in Shanghai.)  In all countries the emerging view seems to be: the flu has not been that dangerous so far, during this atypical, spring time emergence (in the Northern Hemisphere). But it might be a more serious problem when it comes back in new form during the regular flu season, as the weather gets cold.

    A reader who has recently been in Beijing writes to make a point I have heard from a number of health professionals too:
     

    "I'm not an immunologist or anything remotely close.  But I wonder if China is actually hurting themselves by so aggressively stopping the spread of H1N1.  The current incarnation of H1N1 seems to be less lethal than the variants that we normally deal with.  Wouldn't it be better to let this variety of H1N1 spread so that people build up immunity to this mild version of H1N1 and then if H1N1 becomes more lethal they will already have some immunity?

    "By the way, while I was at university this summer in Beijing, a student living on the sixth floor of a dorm became ill with H1N1 and the police came with buses and removed about 60 people from that floor."

    The argument from the Chinese authorities is that in a big, poor country with a shaky public health network, they have no choice but to fight a new disease with everything they've got. Memories of the under-reaction to SARS in 2003 also have a Hurricane Katrina-style "let's not make that mistake again" effect. Given the inconvenience many people, Chinese and foreign, have already suffered in the name of flu control, I hope the hyper-aggressive early response to the flu doesn't backfire.

    64-bit code: Last week, I declared a moratorium on discussion of "huge pages" in Apple's operating systems. (Hey, it was interesting at the time.) The reply below, for nerds only, qualifies in the spirit of fair-response. A reader writes:

    "I have nothing to add to the "huge pages" discussion. I promise.

    "But I would like address Mr. [Ken] Broomfield's closing statement which, I believe, is misleading:
    [Broomfield wrote} " 'For regular users out there, you may want to ask why Photoshop is 64- bit on Windows and not on the Mac. Apple's been touting 64-bit computing for a few years now, somewhat dishonestly, but has dropped the ball in a couple of areas. Some of this goes back to the origins of the Mac, 25 years ago.'

    "The short answer is that Photoshop CS4 for Mac is not 64-bit... because Adobe didn't have time to make it 64-bit before it shipped. Apple did not "drop the ball. Photoshop CS5 _will_ be 64-bit when it ships in 2010.

    "Aside from time, no reason Photoshop CS4 could not have been 64-bit.  Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 (or simply Lightroom, as most people call it) was 64-bit from the get-go. And it shipped over a year ago.

    "There's a longer answer why Photoshop CS4 is not 64-bit that involves things like Carbon and Cocoa and APIs and bickering between tech giants. But let's just leave it that Adobe had only so much time to work on CS4. And that they chose (wisely, I think) to devote their 64-bit efforts for Macintosh to Photoshop CS5."

    For those who might want more on the subject (!), here you go:

    - A 2008 blog entry from John Nack of Adobe, the senior product manager for Photoshop CS4, on why it's not 64-bit on the Mac;

    - Another entry by Nack last month, on some of the hype surrounding 64-bit computing;

    - And from another reader: "Simple answer: Photoshop came over to Mac OS X as a Carbon application, and at a fairly late date Apple decided/announced that this framework would not
    be completely converted to 64-bit. So in order to get 64-bit Photoshop, Adobe needs to re-work Photoshop so that it is a Cocoa application and only calls Carbon functionality through Cocoa's integration tools."

    Now we know.

    More »

  • Once Again, A First-Rate Speech

    I don't know how many people stayed tuned in to watch the whole hour-plus of this speech, counting intro and so on. But, once again among his major addresses, it will bear long-term study for its range, tone, and clarity:

     - Conciliatory: You Republicans want to talk about tort reform? Let's hear your ideas.
     - Tough: When you tell lies, we will call you out.
     - Clarifying: For the first time ever, I felt as if I glimpsed a "larger idea" behind the Obama plan.
     - Big picture: The role-of-government soliloquy at the end, including the connection to the moral and social-contract histories of Social Security and Medicare.
     - Emotional, sans schmaltz: As he got ready for the end, I feared that he would tell the story of all the Lenny Skutnik figures in the First Lady's box. Instead, he told Ted Kennedy's story, with allusions only to Kennedy's Republican friends.
    - Simple performance dynamics: Well delivered, including at crucial points talking over the applause to keep the rhythm going.
    - Manners: Will it pay off for the Republicans to have booed him and, in the case of Rep. "Gentleman Joe" Wilson of South Carolina, to have yelled "you lie!" at the President? We'll see. Update: An ActBlue site supporting an opponent to Wilson raised more than $25,000 within three hours of his outburst. Via Simon Owens.

    There will come a time when Barack Obama cannot pull himself out of pinch with a big speech. And obviously we don't know how this debate will turn out yet. But he hasn't fallen short on the big-speech front yet. More tomorrow.

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