Saturday, October 17, 2009

Beijing's Air Is Cleaner-ish

So there's an interesting article on the NYtimes.com discussing the air pollution of Beijing and how, despite what everyone may think, the air pollution is actually starting to clear up. According to a government study, the number of "blue-sky days" enjoyed by Beijing thus far this year is up to 221, which is the highest number seen since records have been taken. I still believe "I-can-actually-see-the-building-next-door days" would have been a more accurate title here, but I suppose it doesn't have the same ring as "blue-sky days." The important thing though is the pollution is getting better- only two days with dangerously high pollution levels! Whoop!

The article also states that the whole even/odd license-plate road exclusion policy in effect during the Olympics is going to be modified to a permanent version that will ban one in five daily to help reduce traffic congestion. How lovely!

Anyways, the article is an interesting read if you've got time for it. I just wonder how the improved air is going to effect the crazy sunsets Beijing gets from time to time. Check out this photo I took near XiZhiMen- would the sky have looked anything like that if the sky wasn't replete with pollution? Do we really want to lose out on this man-made beauty?

Finally, here's a great link to a funny video from the onion.com about China and its pollution- enjoy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Awesome Job Telling Me About Those Stabbings!

So it looks like the Chinese have taken a page from Japan's best selling novel, How to Stab People, and gone off on a little knife-wielding rampage of their own in Tiananmen Square. I got an email yesterday from the US State Department informing me about two stabbing incidents that occurred at Tiananmen Square, with the first attack occurring on September 17th, and the most recent on the 19th. Several people were injured and a few died. My question is, why the hell did I only get this warning several days after the attack? What was the US Embassy so busy with that they couldn't spend 15 minutes writing up a warning to American citizens that a fatal stabbing occurred against a tourist in the center of Beijing's biggest tourist attraction?!?

What if I was a tourist whose flight arrived on the 17th and I happened to mosey over to Tiananmen on the 19th? Don't you think I would have appreciated a warning from the government? Cause I still haven't heard anything about this incident in the US news and doubt very much that people would have been aware of the incident heading over to China. Now I know that a warning probably wouldn't have prevented most people from visiting Tiananmen, but at the very least it would have kept peoples wits and guard up. It'd also make people feel a lot more secure knowing that the US was actively watching out for them while overseas. So I guess the general gist of this post is that the State Department really should get its act together and get important information like this out to US citizens in a faster and more effective manner.

Anyways, for those you not on the State Department's email-listing who are interested in reading the warning that was sent out, I'm posting it below. Enjoy!


This Warden Message is to inform Americans of reports of two stabbing incidents near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. According to the Associated Press, a French tourist was slightly injured in a September 19 knife attack on Dashilan near Tiananmen Square, an area frequented by tourists. Two days earlier, two security guards were killed and 14 people wounded in a separate knife attack in the same area. The police have indicated that the attackers chose their victims randomly. Their motivations are unknown.

While China?s violent crime rate remains low, these recent incidents give American citizens extra reasons to exercise vigilance and care. When in Beijing or other cities in China, Americans are advised to employ the same precautionary measures they would in any large city: when possible, do not travel alone; pay attention to your surroundings, especially when traveling in unfamiliar areas; avoid large demonstrations or protests; carry only as much cash as is absolutely necessary, and store the currency in multiple locations on your person. Travelers are reminded that Chinese regulations require foreigners to carry their passports with them at all times. You may wish to make a photocopy of your passport and visa pages, and store them in a separate place for safekeeping.

The Chinese police and emergency services hotline can be reached by dialing 110, though few, if any, English-speaking operators may be available. Keep this number and the American Citizen Services emergency contact information found below with you in case of emergency.
For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department?s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. or Canada, or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The U.S. Embassy can be reached 24 hours per day at 86-10-8531-3000. The addresses and telephone contact information for the American Citizen Services offices at the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulates are at the bottom of this announcement.

U.S. citizens residing or traveling in China are reminded to register with the U.S. Embassy or closest U.S. Consulate by entering your travel itinerary and contact information at: https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs. In case of difficulties registering online, please contact the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

U.S. Embassy Beijing: Tian Ze Road intersection of An Jia Lou Road, Chaoyang District. Telephone number during regular business hours and for after-hours emergencies: 86-10-8531-4000, Email: amcitbeijing@state.gov. The embassy?s website is beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stop Smoking Aid!!

So I started this blog a little over a year ago, and it has been my impression that virtually no one has followed it. Yeah, I knew some friends of mine would peruse it from time to time, but for the most part I had no expectations that any strangers would actually take the time to read what I've been passing off as a blog. Yet low and behold, while recently looking over some past blogs I've noticed that strangers have taken the time to comment on my pieces, meaning that people have somehow come across this site and cared enough to critique it. WOOHOO!! Unfortunately I haven't written anything in about two months, so I'm sure those readers have abandoned me and I'm back to writing to myself...

Anyways, here is a picture I took of an interesting vending machine I found at the Bird's Nest stadium that dispenses a "Stop Smoking Aid." I have no idea what the hell this stuff is, but 控烟贴 is translated to Tobacco Control Paste. That name just gives me the nauseating mental-image of an old Chinese guy brushing his teeth with this crap. But who knows, maybe this 10 RMB product really is a miracle elixir!


I was intrigued enough to try to find this product's availability online, and was actually able to find it sold on alibaba.com (a Chinese version of eBay). For only $54 USD (quite the markup), you can own this product that guarantees to cure you of smoking in 35 days or less with NO side-effects! Seeing that over two trillion cigarettes are consumed each year in China (making it the worlds largest smoking market) I certainly hope this product works! In the meantime, here's an interesting Xinhua article that seems to indicate that the government is looking into tighter smoking regulations. I'll believe that when it actually happens.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: BEIBEI IS DEAD

Beibei, the lovable blue Fúwá of Olympic fame and lead character of her self-titled cartoon television series, was brutally murdered and defiled by fellow Olympic mascots at the Beijing "Bird's Nest" Stadium. The grisly murder occurred in broad daylight in front of dozens of sobbing Chinese children and puzzled tourists, who watched helplessly as Beibei was ruthlessly beaten to death.

According to eye-witnesses accounts, the murder occurred during the initial warm-ups of a dance routine performed daily by the Fúwá's. As the adorable creatures stretched and chatted quietly amongst themselves, spectators report that Nini, the green Olympic mascot, began to push Beibei violently from behind. A scuffle quickly broke out amongst the group, with several Fúwá's ganging up on the visibly overpowered Beibei. Video obtained exclusively by this site shows Beibei laying tattered on the floor, with Nini throwing punches to her head and Jingjing apparently dry-humping Beibei's limp body. Yingying and Huanhuan can be seen to the side, perversely watching Jingjing's vile act.

video

A video shot moments after the grisly attack shows yet another scuffle break out amongst the Fúwá group, this time showing the Fúwá's attacking what appears to be a multi-colored, retarded cow thing. Officials have identified the cow as Fu Niu Lele, the official mascot of the Beijing Paralympic games. Video shows Nini violently headbutting Lele, while Yingying can be seen tugging the cow's tail and provocatively slapping it's rear. Later footage appears to show multiple Fúwá uncomfortably rubbing up against a spooked Lele.

video

Reports are still unclear as to what possessed the attacks. All four Fúwá have been taken into custody, where they will be subjected to the traditional Chinese legal process of having to use their fame and fortune to barter their way out of trouble. Police bribes are expected to begin at several million RMB each.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chinese Obstacle Course

In what appears to be an attempt by my kindergarten to help thin out the rapidly over-expanding Chinese population, a "game" has been created for the children that can only end in scraped knees, chipped teeth and presumably death. I'm assuming this "game" was approved by the former Police Chief turned grumpy Headmistress, who has decided to exact revenge on the brats who torment her daily by sending them through an obstacle course that is enjoyable only for her.

Yes, nothing says fun like running through an elaborate series of clear fish-wire hung at various heights with nothing but concrete underfoot! Want to make it more exciting? Pit students against one another in time-trials that encourage the children to run at dangerous speeds! Want to make it even MORE exciting? Invite their parents to cheer them on and put additional pressure on them to run full-speed into a tripwire!! Danger and excitement around every corner! It's wonderful fun for the whole family!! Enjoy: