Life in Beijing would be hard for the paranoid among us. I mean, when you come home from a night in the hospital to find someone has taken the time to disconnect your car battery, despite the watchful guard directly across the street, well... best just not to think about it too much, or you'll begin to think you're the starring character in a Tom Clancy novel.
You live here too long and you start to go a little bit paranoid. I belong to an internet expat group, where you'd think half of the posts are lunatic ravings. These people go on and on and on about how the government has shut down their Facebook access and uninstalled their VPNs and so on. They even insist the government has the power to alter the weather. What's wrong with these people?
But then you move here. And you discover that Facebook is indeed blocked, and that you need a VPN just to access your own blog! It's a strange world. Who's to say they don't control the weather?
So here's a new factoid for my paranoid friends: did you know that there actually is a government agency called the "Beijing Weather Modification Office"? That's right: a real government agency dedicated to manipulating the weather. They're the folks who turn droughts into storms, and who supposedly gave us the blue skies we saw during the Olympics. They fire silver iodide into the clouds to encourage precipitation in specific areas, and they say it works.
Jen Ambrose linked to an article about how the Beijing Weather Modification Office actually created the snowfall we saw on Sunday. According to the article, Zhang Qiang, the woman who runs the Weather Modification Office, claims they were able to add "more than 16 million tonnes of snow" to what had been predicted to fall.
And here I didn't even know the office existed. Now, if I could just figure out who disabled my car that day...