Best Beijing Bad Air Quality Metaphor Ever

I haven’t had time to read many blogs these days, but fortunately John B forwarded me this gem from Imagethief, which discusses Beijing’s air quality:

> How bad was the air the last two days? If it was a person it would have been a seedy, broad-shouldered thug, dressed in filthy leathers and reeking of grain alcohol, last-night’s whorehouse and cheap cigarettes, that hauled you into an alley by your collar and beat you senseless with a lead pipe wrapped in duct tape, emptied your wallet, found your grandmother’s address inside, went to her house and beat her senseless with the same pipe, cleared out her jewelry box and sodomized her golden-retriever on the way out the door before setting fire to her cottage, coming back to the alley and kicking you in the ribs one more time for good measure.

> It was that bad. And even that may not quite capture the sheer evil of it.

Read the rest of the entry.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. well, it was foggy, my hometown is also foggy somedays. No need to make such a fuss.

  2. Chino, “foggy” is the politest possible euphemism for what the air in Beijing was like earlier this week, much in the same way that “pacification” is the politest possible euphemism for napalming a village, executing all the surviving adult males and throwing the corpses of the livestock down the wells. It was toxic death. My lungs –this is not a joke or exaggeration– are still sore. It was an epiphany for anyone tempted to minimize China’s pollution problems; an honest-to-god, reconsider my residency, do-I-want-to-have-my-baby-in-this-town, moment.

    Fortunately the wind is blowing again today, the sky is blue-ish (if not entirely blue) and I can feel my irrepressible affection for Beijing reasserting itself. Optimism is a funny thing.

  3. Don’t worry about the bad air in Beijing anymore. I am sure it is going to clear up at least during the Olympics. Especially when it comes to this kind of thing, you can count on a one-party regime. The CCP is almighty. As for the air in Shanghai, please be patient and wait until 2010.

  4. In Beijing, when they do chest x-rays of smokers, their lungs are actually cleaner.

  5. The secret is the filter.

  6. I sincerely think that the problem in Beijing it’s not only the pollution, but also it’s weather. It’s bad, so almost never is sunny. Of course, there’s also pollution, but…

  7. There’s a difference between fog and aerosolized cancer. San Francisco’s air, for example, has the former; Beijing’s, the latter.

  8. The good news is that because of today’s sub-100 API, which pushes the city right to its goal of 245 “clean air days,” a bunch government officials can enjoy the New Year holiday without worrying about losing their jobs.

  9. ChinoChano is partly right: Beijing’s weather does play a role in its air quality, as does the general dustiness of north China. Trouble is, those indexes that measure air quality don’t include humidity or water vapour as a pollutant, because it isn’t a pollutant. When the index maxes out at 500, we don’t have fog (and how could we? It’s the dry season, for crying out loud! Have you looked at the humidity stats?) we have what Brendan so politely terms “aerosolized cancer”.

    Now, zhwj, tell me: Which officials are measuring the air quality? And whose jobs are on the line?

  10. ChinoChano is only right in that the wind (or lack thereof) and weather fronts play a role in how Beijing’s pollution accumulates. While there is often water vapor and fog on heavy pollution days, the idea that there is a lot of “fog” gets passed around way too much here. I wonder if it is pure ignorance or blind optimism.

    Whichever it is, I am convinced that science education in China isn’t all that it is made out to be.

  11. chriswaugh_bj; here is a link to the State Environmental Protection Administration. They might have something to do with it 😉

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