Welcome to the New Team: Eberlein, Holmes, Spinney, and Sprung

By James Fallows

We're nearing the end of the first week's shift of guest bloggers. Not rushing them off the stage: I believe that they may have a few entries still to come today.

I couldn't be more grateful to this initial group: Phil Baker, who wrote about technology, perseverance and excellence, Apple's corporate culture, and US-China manufacturing links; Paola and Jorge Guajardo, who reported from Beijing about an underappreciated bond in US-Chinese relations, the "hey, wait a minute!" factor when US legislators lecture the Chinese, and prevailing Chinese skepticism about the (preposterous) "Chinese mom" fad in the US; John Tierney, who covered politics, the postal service, and academic culture in various aspects, plus tussling with the readers, plus bringing us Pomplamoose; and Lane Wallace, who wrote about sacrifice, daring, security and security theater, and courage and achievement in fields from swimming to schoolwork to space flight, while like the other writers showing an amazing range. I feel fortunate to have these people as friends.

Appearing soon will be their successors for the coming week, another impressively varied group. We will hear from:

Xujun Eberlein, who grew up in Chongqing, in central China, where she was a child during the Cultural Revolution, and came to Boston to earn a PhD at MIT more than 20 years ago. She has worked in a tech startup and published an acclaimed collection of short stories, Apologies Forthcoming. She writes about Chinese and American literature and culture at her site Inside-Out China; more background on her here.

Bruce Holmes, who for many years was an "entrepreneurial bureaucrat" inside NASA. Bruce was one of the heroes of my book Free Flight, a decade ago, and of this story in the Atlantic more recently. He paid his way through college flying crop dusters and other planes in Kansas, and is still involved in promoting some of the most innovative steps in aviation. More about him and his new company, NextGen AeroServices, here.

Chuck Spinney, who was on the cover of Time magazine in the Reagan era for his attempts to bring sanity to the defense budget, and who was a central figure in my book National Defense in 1981, along with colleagues like John Boyd and Pierre Sprey. Chuck has retired from the Pentagon and has spent much of the past five years on a small sailboat in the Mediterranean with his wife, Alison, and their small dog, Zoey. He writes about American strategy and solvency at his site 'The Blaster.' I have cited Chuck and his views often, including here, here, here, and in a very high-traffic post here.

Andrew Sprung, who writes about politics, culture, language, and democracy at his site Xpostfactoid, and in his day job is a media consultant. I became aware of him through his frequent interesting examinations of a favorite topic of my own: the language, style, and unstated messages in the rhetoric of national leaders. Sprung says that interest may have come from his academic work toward a Ph.D. in medieval English literature: "I wrote a dissertation on the remarkably humane and subtle medieval English anchorite Julian of Norwich, a mystic nun whose knack of squaring circles and framing paradoxes reminds me a little of our current President."

I hope you enjoy their posts. If you have comments pro or con, the "Email Fallows" button, above, will send your messages to the respective authors. Thanks and greetings to all. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/welcome-to-the-new-team-eberlein-holmes-spinney-and-sprung/70481/