What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Unfortunately it's the normal mid-winter get-a-cold time for me, during the current anything-but-normal East Coast cold wave. Most alarming news story of the week: this NYT column saying that rising global temperatures will lead to more severe and colder winters on the US East Coast! I was already concerned about climate change, but now...   As I shiver, I have laryngitis, coughing all night, and various other symptoms, many involving that least-lovely word in the English language, phlegm.

But thanks to some good friends* from China, relief is at hand -- in the form of products from the Tianjin Medicines and Health Products Company. Chinese traditional medicine is strong on relatively small dosages taken in relatively large quantities. So I am supposed to take four of the pills below, twice a day, till cured.


During our years in Malaysia in the 1980s, and more recently and China, my wife and I became unlikely converts to a lot of Asian medical practices. I had serious back pain cured by an acupuncturist (who used needles the size of aluminum baseball bats) in Kuala Lumpur. In her book, my wife describes how the gruesome-seeming therapy of fire-cupping, applied in an all-night massage parlor in the city of Yueyang, snapped her out of a serious bout of the flu. Sure, she had big red welts on her back for the next ten days, but her fever was gone!

So, why not take the pills. And I feel all the more consoled on checking the fine print ingredients list: honeysuckle, forsythia, burdock, and so on. I'm sure it's all safe, including the balloomflower, and it's not as if "normal" medicine is doing me any good.


* These are American friends, the China scholars John Flower and Pam Leonard, whose research in Sichuan province I describe in my previous book. They're the ones to go looking for, or else the QC team at Tianjin Medicines, should I never be heard from again.

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.


Confessions of Moms Around the World

A global look at the hardest and best job ever


A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book


The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"


This Japanese Inn Has Been Open for 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

From This Author

Just In