Placeholders on the News: 'Devils or Angles,' Extreme Weather Emergencies

I have been preoccupied by other matters, so two brief visual place-holders:

1) Anyone who loves the English-language Chinese press will love it all the more thanks to the kickoff to this new series in the proudly nationalist Global Times:


Remember, this is part of the government-guided soft-power initiative to the outside world. And it's a feature in English, about foreigners. This should make Mitt Romney feel a little better about his recent bumpy patches when dealing with alien sensibilities. It also made me reflect on the big exhibit I saw at the lovely Shanghai Art Museum a few years ago, with dramatic photos of families dislocated during the building of the Three Gorges dam. The huge posters outside said, in English: "Photos of The Three Georges."

2) Phone-cam shot of the dashboard of my car, as I sat at a stop light on Virginia Avenue in DC this afternoon. I direct your attention to the 105F reading on the outside-temp gauge.


OK, the reading may have been skewed by urban "heat island" effects, and so on. Still. It is almost as if something larger is happening to the world's climate system, though of course we are not supposed to say that. If you would like some non-reassuring reading on this point, check out this, about what the extreme heat and drought are doing to world food supplies. Or, no joke, this segment on The Colbert Report, with an Iowa agriculture. Or this from Grist, about a Tom the Dancing Bug feature. Or, for one more visual aid, this graphic of how much the Greenland ice sheet increased its melting in a four-day period earlier this month, from NASA. Details at the NASA site, but with the concept of "red = warm" you'll get the idea.

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More tomorrow.
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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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