As promised earlier, I'm not planning to belabor the Beijing-air question while the Olympics are still more than half a year away. And as stated many times, I hope the Beijing Olympics will be a big success. China deserves to feel good about what it is putting together, and it will be best for the whole world if the Chinese people at large feel satisfied about this huge effort. I'm not being flip here: I'm rooting for China to pull this off just right and bask in deserved praise.

Also, these last three or four weeks in Beijing have included a lot of nice-seeming, if cold, days.

But the juxtaposition of the story below, from in today's Olympian, a weekly supplement to the state-controlled China Daily in the months leading up to the Olympics; and the picture below that, a view out the apartment window at 1pm today; and the almost unbelievable NASA satellite shot that is the third image, taken on December 17, a recent "nice-seeming" day, prompts reference to a few other observations. (The satellite image came via and BeijingAir.)

One is this blog item two weeks ago by Tim Johnson of the McClatchy papers in Beijing, whom I don't know. He asks whether it is dangerous for children to grow up in Beijing. For understandable reasons, he doesn't directly answer the question -- understandable because, I infer from the post, he has little kids here himself. But the post is full of interesting quotes, data, and observations, none of which are found in, say, The Olympian.

The other is the aforementioned Beijing Air blog, a knowledgeable-seeming site providing technical data about pollution and weather . I don't know who produces it (apparently a Belgian named Tom), but at face value it is convincing. One of the point it consistently makes is that even days that seem nice in Beijing make not be acceptable for athletics (and general living), because of the very high level of very small particulates. These small particles are actually more dangerous than bigger, uglier, more easily visible contaminants, because the small ones can go deeper into your lungs.

Merry Christmas! And the last on this theme until the Games are closer at hand.

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