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China woes and reality TV furniture collections

Heath E. Combs Staff writerHeath E. Combs Staff writer
The surreal look of Beijing during what was recently dubbed the "airpocalypse" might soon find China waging its own war on coal.
     Last week, the city appeared draped in a thick London fog - in reality a soupy pollutant haze.
     There are blue skies in China, and smog is nothing new for Southeast Asia or America for that matter, but Beijing - population nearing 20 million - hit a noteworthy benchmark on Jan. 12. The air quality index topped out at 755 - a reading of 300 is considered very high, occurring during events like forest fires - and particulate pollution was 12 times greater than recommended daily levels, the Wall Street Journal reported.
     Some local factories either halted production or cut daily emissions, flights were canceled and cars were taken off the road. The mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist party, the People's Daily, called the city's pollution problem no longer one unique to Beijing, but a "national phenomenon."
     Many U.S. news outlets saw calls by internal media for better ecological controls as the Chinese Communist party acknowledging a potential threat to political stability - not to mention productivity and health care costs. Much to blame is increased coal use during a particularly cold winter and more cars on the road, using low-grade gasoline.
     China obviously has an accomplished, driven populace. But economic growth is pretty hollow if quality of life is severally downgraded with it.
     On another note, America's biggest stars today have to be the characters on reality TV shows. There are some good ones out there, no doubt. And there are some whose 15 minutes should have ended about 15 minutes ago.
     But certainly some of these names lend themselves to licensed furniture collections.
     For example, the new face of youth bedroom could be ratings juggernaut Honey Boo Boo, once a subject of "Toddlers and Tiaras," now star of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." Her accomplishments include coining the name Bronco Bama for the president. She's also known for speaking with her stomach folds and disturbingly serenading a deer carcass named Darlene.
     Or how about a Kim Kardashian toddler bed? The 32-year-old reality star was reportedly upset when baby daddy Kanye West dropped news of their pregnancy onstage in December. That's because Kim's family expects to make a fortune off the baby - millions from stroller endorsements, baby-food products, motherhood DVDs, a kids clothing line, baby sunscreen, children's makeup and for Kim weight loss products.
     Maybe there's some room for furniture.
     Or with all the furniture industry's history in North Carolina and southwestern Virginia, how about a "Moonshiners" collection? Las Vegas can have Penn & Teller. We can have Tim and Tickle.

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