I Have Seen the Face of Evil

The world's most pointless invention: It's not just for autumn any more!

The latest mailing from a group called Power Equipment Direct brings depressing news.

America is a great but imperfect country, always struggling against its shortcomings. I recommend more struggle on this front.

On the other hand, one of my sons says that I should keep my focus on the real problem: the ownership of the local Washington NFL club. Leaf blowers, he reminds me, make you miserable on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis. But for nearly 15 years now, the team and its leadership have disheartened an entire metro region.

For-the-record legalistic point: I am not calling any person or business entity "evil." 

But I do regard gas-powered leaf blowers as the devil's handiwork. They would be in strong contention if we did a bizarro-world version of our "50 Greatest Breakthroughs" story, one focused on "50 Biggest Tech-enabled Steps That Should Never Have Been Taken."

Presented by

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.


Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.


Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.


How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in National

From This Author

Just In