Three scenes from the subway (includes subversive panda content)

Life under ground, in three acts.

1. The subversive pandas go soft-power. For illustrations of their previous quasi-menace, check here, here, and here. Now, a love-bombing campaign, as seen at the Jianguomen station today:

It's all part of an ad campaign to boost tourism to Sichuan province, homeland of the pandas and of course the site of last year's earthquake.

2. What is inside those mysterious blue anti-bomb pots?  Not very much, it turns out. (Background here.)  At an undisclosed location, I found one of them sitting propped open. Inside there appears to be a miniature cargo net, to cradle whatever suspect item is placed there. Otherwise it's just a big metal ball. I feel safer now. (You're looking down from the top in this picture, to see an inch-thick metal lid tilted open, and the reddish metal interior.)

3. Is 'Prison Break' big in China? It is very, very big! The star Wentworth Miller -- "Michael Scofield" -- is absolutely enormous, dominating a skyline view of Shanghai in an ad for the Chevy Cruze.

That's the rocket ship-shaped Tomorrow Square building, eponym for my latest book, on the far left side.

GM looks sexier here than it may at the moment in the US -- Buick is still a dominant, tres chic brand.

Political PS: security is ratcheting up in Beijing, as we move toward a 20-year anniversary that is 36 days from today. A subway cop came over looking hostile when he saw me taking pictures of the 'Prison Break' ads. Relying on the widespread Chinese assumption that I am in fact the 43rd president of the United States, I explained reassuringly that I was interested in the posters because they were of "my friend in the United States." It was too complicated to explain the real connection -- which is that Miller's father was my classmate in graduate school.