Greetings From Sioux Falls

Another day, another state.


There is still lots to tell about Holland, Michigan. Mentally we are mainly still there, but physically my wife and I are now in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where this morning as part of our Atlantic-Marketplace collaboration I did a discussion with Kai Ryssdal. After Labor Day, Marketplace will kick off its Sioux Falls series, and we'll be getting into it here after we finish several more installments of the Holland saga.

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Locals will recognize this as the observation tower at the eponymous Falls Park. In the background is the famed John Morrell packing house, where some 20,000 pigs meet their maker each day. (The Morrell works, now owned by Shuanghui of China as part of the Smithfield deal, are an absolutely fascinating part of Sioux Falls's story, as we hope to show.)  Kai Ryssdal and I -- he is in the center -- are both leaning into the building, in an attempt to avoid the then-steadily mounting rain. The stoic engineer Charlton Thorp manfully sticks to his post. Kai Ryssdal did a brief intro to the Sioux Falls saga on this evening's show. 

As part of the Atlantic-Marketplace combine, I flew my Cirrus airplane to the downtown St. Paul airport to pick up Kai and Charlton, who had come via airline from Los Angeles, and fly them back to Sioux Falls. Kai Ryssdal learned to fly in the Navy, and on the way back I flew but he did all the radio work. It was droll to hear a very well-known broadcast voice saying the likes of "Sioux Falls approach, this is Cirrus Five Sierra Romeo, two-zero miles east with ATIS Kilo for runway two-one." I couldn't tell whether the controllers did an aural double-take -- or whether this was so much like the ideal Yeager Cool Guy Pilot Voice that they took it all in stride.

Greetings from the "East River" side of the state. And here, for the record, is how the downtown Falls themselves looked at the time.


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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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