Back to Beijing #1 (not so good news)

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Back to the capital very late last night, after a week in Yunnan and Guangdong, under strange circumstances to be discussed in a minute. This morning my wife says, "You know, my lungs feel a little funny here again." We look out the window. Nothing that unusual:

http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r96/jfallows/IMG_6880.jpg

Then, unwisely, I look at the real-time Twitter feed of the most dangerous sort of particulate pollution in Beijing, as mentioned here earlier.

BJAir424.jpg

Hmmm. A reading just now of 451, "hazardous," and the US range doesn't even extend above 300.... (Update: an hour later, noon local time, it's up to 453. And now, two hours later, it's down to 276, "very unhealthy." All right! And three hours later it's 76, "moderate"! Weird. But I can go to the gym.) Oh well, time to get to the better-news posting that will follow.

For context: sample sky from Yunnan. A week of this has apparently gotten us out of condition for life in the big city.

http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r96/jfallows/IMG_6863.jpg

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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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