What's wrong with travel, part 973

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What I crammed into my carry on bag on my recent slog from China to America and back:

Test

Everyone recognizes the gear:

laptop power supply, cell phone recharger, headset for using Skype, noise-reduction headset for 12-hour plane flight (which can't do double-duty for Skype, since it lacks a microphone), in-plane power supply for same 12-hour flight, Ethernet cable. And of course this didn't include the laptop or cellphone itself, or the extra batteries for laptop and headset, or the other cell phone and charger (the Chinese phone, which in fairness I put in the checked bag). Fortunately this junk takes up so much room that it keeps me from sneaking any security-threat liquids into the carry-on -- or many books. The paperless office produces and consumes more paper; and the "virtual" and "connected" age turns us into pack animals.

Good news: Sergey Brin, of Google, says that he is taking on the real-world inconvenience of electronic devices as one of his next campaigns.

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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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