My friend Bob and his family had just returned from two weeks in China and I from a 25th-anniversary trip with my wife to Italy. On a July summer evening, we were sitting in an ice-cream shop on the main street in San Clemente, with a sweet chill in the darkening California air, and talking cars.
Mei Lin, Bob’s beautiful, precocious 7-year-old daughter, fastidiously edged into a cup of Nestle Crunch folded into vanilla, trying not to miss a word.
In China’s cities, Bob tells me, the explosion of car ownership is breathtaking. Thirty years ago, I visited communist China, and an enduring memory is the morning commute of an ocean of humanity moving to work on bicycles, silently. Read the rest of this entry »