Good News: Music. Bad News: Oil

Of course you should read everything on the Atlantic's site, plus the magazine. You can easily do that, plus hold a day job, as long as you don't sleep. But even if you're sleepy here are two items not to miss.

Let's get to the bad news first. Lisa Margonelli makes a powerful case today that we have not begun to face the truth about the BP disaster: namely, that perhaps no one has any idea how to control the leak, and it could get much worse and go on for years. This is not welcome reading, but please read it.

On the other hand: You will feel better after reading Benjamin Carlson's* ongoing series -- in three parts so far, here, here, and here -- about how to listen to classical music and like it. To me this illustrates the best of the "old media" and new media journalistic styles combined. It's explanatory in a way that is comfortable in its authority while being easily accessible to non-experts, just as articles in good magazines have always tried to be. But it also uses embedded videos and images to enrich the explanation in a way that wouldn't have been possible even a few years ago. Funny and enlightening. Please check this series out -- after you read about oil.

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*One-time only disclosure: I should say this "in public" once, for the record, so I'll do it now. Although no one at Atlantic HQ knew this this before he became a mainstay here, Ben Carlson and I are related. His mother is my cousin Holly. Naturally I consider him a credit to the magazine and the family, but I would like this series whoever its writer was. FYI.

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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.

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