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Wind-Generated Electricity in India and China

Photos from an article in yesterday's New York Times by Keith Bradsher

Wind-powered turbines set up by Suzlon Energy near Dhule, India, are part of the technology increasingly reaching the country’s rural regions. Photo: Scott Eells for The New York Times

The Patils, father and son, plow a field below Indian wind towers. Photo: Scott Eells for The New York Times

Excerpt: "The demand for wind turbines has particularly accelerated in India, where installations rose nearly 48 percent last year, and in China, where they rose 65 percent, although from a lower base. Wind farms are starting to dot the coastline of east-central China and the southern tip of India, as well as scattered mesas and hills across central India and even Inner Mongolia.

Coal is the main alternative in the two countries, and is causing acid rain and respiratory ailments while contributing to global warming. China accounted for 79 percent of the world’s growth in coal consumption last year and India used 7 percent more, according to statistics from BP.

Worried by its reliance on coal, China has imposed a requirement that power companies generate a fifth of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. This target calls for expanding wind power almost as much as nuclear energy over the next 15 years. India already leads China in wind power and is quickly building more wind turbines…"

Stewart Brand On Orville Schell On China Today

Stewart Brand used to write highly-distilled gem-like reviews for his Whole Earth Catalog. Below is his concise summary of a talk given by China scholar Orville Schell last week in San Francisco, regarding what's going on in China right now. It was one of Stewart's monthly Seminars of Long Term Thinking (SALT) series (see below).

"China Thinks Long-term, But Can It Relearn to Act Long-term?"
"China is the most unresolved nation of consequence in the world," Orville Schell began. It is defined by its massive contradictions. And by its massiveness--- China's population is estimated to be 1.25 to 1.3 billion; the margin of error in the estimate is greater than the population of France. It has 160 cities with a population over one million (the US has 49). It has the world's largest standing army.

No society in the world has more millennia in its history, and for most of that history China looked back. Then in the 20th century the old dynastic cycles were replaced by one social cancellation after another until 1949, when Mao set the country toward the vast futuristic vision of Communism. That "mad experiment" ended with Deng Xiaoping's effective counter-revolution in the 1980s, which unleashed a new totalistic belief, this time in the market.

So what you have now is a society sick of grand visions, in search of another way to be, focussed on the very near term.

These days you cannot think usefully about China and its potential futures without holding in your mind two utterly contradictory views of what is happening there. On the one hand, a robust and awesomely growing China; on the other hand a brittle China, parts of it truly hellish.

- Peaceful borders in all directions
- Economic, non-threatening engagement with the entire world, including with societies the US refuses to deal with
- 200 million Chinese raised out of poverty
- Private savings rate of 40 percent (it's 1 percent in the US)
- 300 million people with cell phones, and the best cell phone service in the world
- A superb freeway system built almost overnight
- New building construction everywhere, and some of it is brilliant
- 150 million people online
- 350,000 engineering graduates a year
- One-third of the world's direct investment
- Huge trade surplus
- And an economic growth rate of 9 to 12 percent a year! For decades.

but also...

- Not much arable land, so a growing dependence on imported food
- Two-thirds of energy production is from dirty coal, by dirty methods, growing at the rate of 1-2 new coal-fired plants per week
- 30 percent of China has acid rain; 75 percent of lakes are polluted and rivers are polluted or pumped dry
- Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 16 are in China; you don't see the sun any more
- Some industrial parts of China are barren, hellish wastes
- Driven by environmental horrors and by widespread corruption, there were 87,000 instances of social unrest last year, going up every year
- The population is aging rapidly, with no pension or welfare, and a broken healthcare system
- The stock markets are grossly manipulated
- Public and official amnesia about historical legacies such as Tiananmen Square in 1989

How can such contradictions be reconciled? The best everyone can hope for is steady piecemeal change. For the Chinese the contradictions don't really bite so long as they have continued economic growth to focus on and to absorb some of the problems. But what happens when there's a break in that growth? It could come from inside China or from outside (such as a disruption in the US economy).

It's hard to look at the China boom now without thinking about the Japan boom in the 1970s and '80s, remembering how everyone knew the Japanese were going to dominate the US and world economy, and we all had to study Japanese methods to learn how to compete. Then that went away, and it hasn't come back.

The leadership of China is highly aware of the environmental problems and is enlightened and ambitious about green solutions, but that attitude does not yet extend beyond the leadership, and until it does, not much can happen.

That's China: huge, consequential for everybody, and profoundly unresolved.

--Stewart Brand
Before the lecture, Stewart wrote:
China is the hinge of history these decades. It is huge, and old, now globally engaged, and it moves fast when it wants to.

Lifelong China scholar Orville Schell routinely travels there. His wife Baifang is deeply involved in contemporary Beijing. Schell's role as dean of the School of Journalism at Cal gives him exceptional insight on what the media and Washington policy-makers have missed in thinking about what China may do in the coming years and decades, and how, and why...

For future seminar announcements and Stewart's summaries by email go to http://list.longnow.org/mailman/listinfo/SALT

2006 S.F. Blues Festival: Dee Rochon/Phil Guy/Hollywood Blue Flames/Mitch Kashmar/Ruth Brown/Little Richard

We rented a booth and sold our book Home Work, and I went on Sunday (yesterday). The festival has been going on for 30+ years, hosted by Tom Mazzolini and it's in a wonderful grassy park looking down on the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. The day started foggy and then cleared, and the music was fabulous. Other than Ruth Brown and Little Richard, I'd never heard of any of these musicians before. Conclusion: there is a lot of good blues out there! I got a press pass so I got to shoot from "the pit." Here are some pictures hot off the Canon:

Dee Rochon, a powerful singer, backed by a great lady sax player

Chicago blues supreme by Phil Guy, Buddy Guy's brother. Elegant music.

Chicago Harmonica Project

This couple brought along their own dance floor. It was oak flooring that bolted together in 4 sections

Ruth Brown, at 80+, was fabulous. She's royalty. Her voice is vibrant and alive, and she's still kicking. "Just cause I'm old, don't mean I'm cold." At one point I was right in front of her with my camera and she winked at me just before going into "Mama, he treats your daughter mean." It was a thrill.

For her (2nd) encore she did "If I can't sell it, I gonna sit back down on it…"

And of course, The MAN himself, Little Richard. A 20-foot long limo, an elegant and superb bunch of backup musicians, but I'm sorry to say, it was the least good of all the day's music. An act for Vegas. The voice ain't there. (Come to think of it, how could it be?) He came in pretty unsteadily with crutches and said he'd hurt his back. He's still great looking, with those high cheekbones and exotic eyes.

He did his great songs, but they sounded like "golden oldies." He repeatedly said "shut up" to the audience; people told me it's part of his regular schtick, but it grated. It was a staged act, but hey, people liked it, the music is still great, it's dance music. People sang along. Womp-bomp-a-loom-op-a-womp-bam-boom! I mean, we owe the guy so much from 40 years ago: that energy and joy, that '50s boogie-woogie rhythm and blues, and that amazing voice. Right now I'm listening to the old Bama Lama, Bama Loo, it's not well known like Tutti Frutti*, but it's a killer.
I asked my baby for a kiss she shook her head like this whooooo!
A great Little Richard CD is Little Richard — 18 Greatest Hits/Rhino Records.
The S.F. Blues Festival is a wonderful event. Relaxed. Great music. Great food. http://www.sfblues.com/
*I just read on Wikipedia that the original title was Tutti frutti/Good booty and was changed to Tutti frutti/All rooty AND that tutti frutti is slang for a gay male.

Burning Man/San Pedro Cactus in Bloom/Restored Railway Caboose/Tough Ford Van

I came into San Francisco early this morning. At Caffe Roma (in North Beach), my friend Rod Freebairn-Smith brought his Mac laptop to where I was sitting and turned on a 240-photo slide show for me, of this year's Burning Man. It was spectacular. It captured the event, the people, and the constructions way better than anything I've seen.

I just downloaded some photos from my pocket (Olympus Stylus 800) camera here in the cafe. Here are a few random shots:

San Pedro cactus blooming this week in our garden. A heavenly scent fills the air as night approaches. Bees are all over the blossoms during the day.

Restored caboose I shot last night in Duncan Mills along the Russian River

Caboose interior

Tough road warrior van photographed early this morning on a steep street in North Beach. It was a Ford Triton V-8, looked like 4-wheel drive, a serious vehicle

Fresh Eggs/Huckleberries/Running Solo/Clover Milk Ads/Gorecki Meets Tchaikovsky/William Morris/Jug Band/1950 Ford

I've been working on the revised edition of our Septic Systems Owner's Manual recently. Worthwhile work, but not too exciting. I can't wait to start doing layout for my next book, Builders of the Pacific Coast, but must get the septic revisions done first. It's a sunny late fall afternoon right now, so I'm having fun doing a bit of blogging. Our garden is pumping out food now. We eat mostly our own vegetables. Our own eggs from bantam Auracanas. Local fish and meat from the old-fashioned butcher shop downtown. Last week we picked wild huckleberries and Lesley made some incredible-tasting jam/I only run once a week now, and slowly. It's a huge change after 25 years. I still meet the boys on Tuesday night, but I run alone, these days up the coast to a lookout point that sits on a ridge jutting out into the ocean, about 700 feet high, then back to the beach and jump in the freshwater lagoon that forms in the summer, then into the pub for Guinness on tap/The Clover Milk signs on Highway 101 have been witty and funny for decades now. The latest: "Head and Tails Above the Udders," and it shows Clover cows floating above other cows. Years ago there was one that read: "Tip Clo Through The Two Lips." Give those guys an award!/I was having breakfast in Berkeley with Kevin Votel, my contact at Publishers Group West, a few weeks ago. Kevin had two CDs on the table by classical composers I'd never heard of. One was Henryk Gorecki. The waiter was standing there and Kevin asked if he'd heard the Gorecki CD. Yes, he said, and they discussed it knowledgeably. I said to Kevin, "How did you know he would know this composer?" (who to me was pretty obscure) and the waiter said, "Well my name is Tchaikovsky…"/A few months ago I saw an exhibit (in San Francisco) of the 19th century Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain. One of the placards in the exhibit, in discussing William Morris, the artist/poet/designer/writer/architect/eco-socialist superstar of the Movement, said: "At the very moment when Britain was celebrating its industrial might, Morris objected to the production of 'souless goods' by the machine…(whereas Arts and Crafts) designs were freshly derived from vernacular folk crafts and botany."/I continue to be amazed at the feedback I'm getting lately on my books Shelter and Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter. Suddenly everywhere I go people are telling me how these books have influenced their lives. It just now occurs to me that it's probably due to us getting back into the shelter (as opposed to fitness) category with our books these days, and I'm hanging out once again with builders, homesteaders, people into gardening and farming and doing things for themselves./Music stuff: I've been listening to The Best of the Memphis Jug Band (Yazoo CD #2050) a lot lately. It's basic rock-bottom foot-stompin blues. I mean jug bands are great in themselves, but this is a jug band that played pure blues with the simplest of instruments (in the 20s). What they do is so effortless and elegant. Other music news: I've been trying to learn how to "bend" notes on a blues harp lately, without much success. I knew my next-door neighbor Chick played the blues harp, so I went over this morning and asked him about it. He got his harp and played a little. He sounded good. "Hey play something Chick," I asked, and he proceeded to play some beautiful blues riffs. Wow!/Lastly here's a photo I took of a spruced-up 1950 Ford sedan in Mill Vally last week. This, along with the VW bug, the Ford Cortina, and the BMW 2002, is one of my favorite cars. In 1960 my brother and I bought a rather doudy looking 1950 ballpoint-pen-blue stick shift 2-door Ford Sedan for $200, and drove it across country to attend a 6-week insurance broker's course in Hartford, Connecticut. It was a 3000-mile trip and we took turns driving, about 2 hours at a time, and had a mattress in the back (took out back seat) where one guy could sleep comfortably, and we rolled across the USA. We stayed in a boarding house in Hartford, went 5 days a week to the school, and on weekends drove all over the east coast, which was in full-color October glory. We went to the Adirondacks (Racquet Lake), to Cape Cod, New York City, to see Yale. On the trip home we made it from Connecticut to San Francisco in 69 hours, got 20 mpg. We had put 10,000 miles on the car. We sold it for $200.

1950 Ford In Mill Valley, Calif, September 2006

New Age Kayaks/Hobie Does It Again

I went up to a place called Wind Toys in Santa Rosa recently to pick up a boat trailer. I was surprised to see not only the huge inventory of kayaks in the store, but the variety of kayaks available nowadays. I used to fish out of a kayak 20 years ago, but I haven't looked in on the kayak scene recently. Hobie Alter, designer of the Hobie Cat and other tuned-in watercraft, has a whole new line of kayaks. A bunch of them are propelled by foot pedals that power two underwater flippers, much like a penguin's flippers. There are foot-propelled kayaks made for fishing, high-speed lightweight kayaks, tandems, racing kayaks, kayaks with sails. There's one with a great sun parasol on an aluminum mast. If you live in the San Francisco area and are into kayaks, I'd check these guys out. They're on Santa Rosa Ave (the same street as Friedman's). You can also check out Hobie Kayaks at:

Some of the kayaks at Wind Toys in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Kayak with sail

Old Family Photos

My mom is 99 and living in a retirement home. When she moved there I ended up with boxes of family photos. Here are a couple:

My mother, Virginia Essie Jones when she was about 20 in Salt Lake City

My dad, Lloyd Kahn Sr., in his 20s in San Francisco. He lived until he was 92.

My mother's cousins, twins Beverly and Betty, were dancers.

While digging around in the old photos I came up with this one of our singing quartet, The Uncalled Four, at Lowell High School, San Francisco, class of 1952. I played a ukulele and a gut bucket, and we did 20s songs and some barbershop harmony. Left to right, me, Bill Bixby (later of Incredible Hulk and My Favorite Martian fame, John Lodmell, and Don "Whitey" Schaller. We did an appearance on Channel 5 in San Francisco, and it was Bixby's first TV appearance.