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Maybe This Will Cool You Off (if You're in the U.S. Swelter Belt)

As a watchword for life, you never go wrong with "other people's weather is not interesting." But enough people in the eastern two-thirds of the US are now broiling that it may be a moment to talk about the heat. The map below from The Weather Channel a few minutes ago shows DC at a balmy 93F. Hah. I'm looking at a thermometer now that's 10 degrees over that.


Don't worry -- I'm not going to suggest the slightest connection with larger-scale climate changes. That would just make us feel worse.

Instead I'll direct your attention to the one part of the map that is spared current heat-advisory concerns: the upper northwest, including my one-time home of Seattle. Thanks to Peter Pathe of greater Seattle for a pointer to a story calculating that Seattle has had "78 minutes of summer" this year. That is, a total of 78 minutes in which the temperature has been above 80 degrees F, most of it on one day. The comments on the story include this poignant (and accurate) line:
"Living in Seattle is like being married to a beautiful woman who is sick most of the time."
That shouldn't make me feel any cooler, but weirdly it does.
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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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