Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Top: Jack & The Videoheads Archive; Centre: The Videoheads team back in the day; Bottom: Jack with John and Yoko

JACK HENRY MOORE is one of the unsung heroes of the 1960s/1970s youth culture revolutions. A video pioneer, he handled the sound and lights for the UFO Club and the London Arts Lab, organised the Alchemical Wedding in 1968 at the Albert Hall and established the MIkweg (Milky Way) in  Amsterdam in 1970, which became the base for Videoheads.

Jack still lives in Amsterdam in a huge archive containing 72,000 hours of video - possibly the biggest and most important archive of underground/counter-culture footage in the world.

 Jack (on right) with Videohead pioneers Kit Galloway and Dave Jones outside the Melkweg (Milky Way) in Amsterdam in the 1970s.

Unhappily Jack and the Archive will be evicted from their premises unless we can find 4000 Euros - as a gift or a loan - in the next 24 hours. We need your help and support urgently. 

 STOP PRESS/1 August 2012: Jack makes the deadline with two hours to spare. Phew! Search continues for interim funding while rescue package assembled.

A ghostly and atmospheric video of  Pink Floyd performiong in the "RockCircus" festival in the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium, May 22nd, 1972.

Contact Jack here: jackhmoore@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


'One of the reasons people feel there is something satanic about the lure of their music is because its very primal - what it did to your head and the way it captured you. With the Stones, I thought about sex; with Zeppelin you felt....danger' 
 - Bebe Buell, celebrated rock consort and girlfriend of Jimmy Page

THE GENERALIST makes no claims to being a Led Zep expert but I was there at the time. 

I played their first album virtually the day it came out at a gig I was DJing for at the old Hotel on Eel Pie Island. 

I saw them at the 1970 Bath Festival whilst sitting in a tent with about seven heavy trippers and catching a contact high. They headlined on Sunday 28th June. Also on the bill that day: Frank Zappa and The Mothers, Moody Blues, Byrds, Santana, Flock, Dr John, Country Joe and Hot Tuna.

I was also there at one of the two simultaneous premieres in London for their film 'The Song Remains The Same'. They entered the balcony area and the whole audience stood up - except me and my mates. It all seemed a bit pompous at the time -  the film certainly was. 

The original 1976 ticket for Led Zep's film premiere [The Generalist Archive]

This book tells in unprecedented detail, the story of Led Zep, a monstrous rock construction, carefully designed and built to conquer America. Which they did, in a series of lightning raids that elevated them to rock god status - outselling the Stones. Yet mysterious: no singles, no tv appearances, no press. Protected by a man-mountain of a manager and an agressive and powerful 'connected' music lawyer, and handled by the best booking agency in America and Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, they unleashed their thunderous magic and captured the heart and soul of working-class kids in America, who didn't give a dog turd what Rolling Stone said. They worked it like a military operation, reaching stratospheric heights before the exhaustion kicked in - and the road madness - the drugs, the girls, the mayhem, the violence. In retrospect, ironic that the first Zep album featured the Hindenburg crash on the cover.

To date, the biggest-selling book on Led Zep is 'Hammer of the Gods' by Stephen Davis -  a book, as I understand it, largely based on the memories of Richard Cole, the band's long-time frighteningly agressive tour manager who, after long years of service for relatively modest return was summarily dumped by the band. The story is well told and has helped establish and embellish the mythological status of the band, peppered as it is with hair-raising rock tales and salacious incidents.

This new fat and heavy 550pp+ tome by Barney Hoskyns has these too but its a dark horse of a different order. Firstly its form: an oral history almost entirely based on first-hand quotes from more than 200 witnesses and the principals themselves. The ones who are dead are represented by referenced quotes from the past; the living were assiduously tracked down by Barney and interviewed by phone or in person. It makes me tired just thinking about the work involved in stitching the cut-up transcripts into a seamless narrative.

The structure of the book works: - a great  lick-your lips come-on intro, two chapters pre-Zep, the rise and fall of the band (the bulk of the narrative), ending with the adventures of Page and Plant following John Bonham's death.

Pre-Zep is good stuff. One chapter focuses on Page's rapid rise to becoming the hottest session guitarist around and his adventures with the Yardbirds + the background story to John Paul Jones, also a remarkable session man, multi-instrumentalist, genius musical arranger. For the rest of the book, Jones is virtually absent, a shadow figure but, as Barney makes clear, one who made a major musical contribution to the Led Zep sound. The other charts the interesting Birmingham music scene of the time and Plant and Bonham's musical adventures and background.

The multi-voice narrative throughout is full of contradictions. Was Peter Grant a psychopathic monster or a sad charming man with a frightening appearance. Was Page really into practicing Crowleyesque magic and was he the dark manipulative heart of the band or a nice quiet sweet-natured almost feminine figure. Was John Bonham an out-of-control physically abusive liability or a homesick sweetie who loved his prize bulls and hated flying. By all accounts Planty was a babe magnet but is he as distanced from all the bad behaviour as he would like to make out. Make up your own mind.

Zeppelin's saga is part Spinal Tap, part Good Fellas, part Fear and Loathing and part Dante. Quote after quote emphasises the total overwhelming magnificence and power of their best live performances alongside the olympian drug-taking, pre-pubescent sleaze, physical violence and a body count of those who couldn't keep up the pace or who were summarily dismissed as surplus to requirements. Its a mighty Machiavellian tale which would have been to Caligula's taste.

Happily Barney balances all the mayhem with valuable insights into the actual music making, explaining in some detail how they developed their sound which combined Bonham's huge prowess as a drummer, Page and Jones' complete mastery of their instruments, an Plant's impressive vocal style into complex material that ranged from Delta Blues to Tolkeinesque prog, Moroccan ragas to Welsh folk, the heaviest of metal to the most ethereal of acoustic soundscapes,

There's also valuable material on Zep's relationship to the punk scene and on the story of their Swan Song record label which unleashed Bad Company to huge success but failed to deliver for Maggie Bell and Dave Edmunds. Interesting stuff also on Roy Harper and his relationship to the band -  a 'crucial chum'.

The post-Zep stuff is also of interest as it documents Plant's constant search for a musical way forward, leading to his major hit album with Allison Krause, in the process of which his relationship with Page shifts to one of equals. Surprised that there is no mention of Page's painstaking remastering and reissuing of  Led Zep's back catalogue which introduced their work to yet another new generation.

'Trampled Under Foot' is a remarkable chronicle which adds considerably not only to our knowledge of the band but also to our understanding of what went down in those dark unhinged days of the 1970s. Its a book haunted by the voices of the living and the dead who took that flight to the highest apex of Rock Olympia only to discover a dark vaccuum that led, in so many cases, to paranoia, complete exhaustion, drug-soaked madness and total addiction.

The sun came out, the book arrived and I devoured it in two big chunks over two days during which it became my reality. So its readable and addictive. Its also a roller-coaster ride of emotions which leads you inevitably and quite rightly back to the music itself. And the wonder of it all.

Led Zeppelin at the Royal Albert Hall 1970

'Trampled Under Foot' by Barney Hoskyns is published by Faber & Faber on September 6th 2012.

PS: I do have one ancedote to add to the historical record. As Dick Tracy working for the NME, I wrote a story about this punk band in California who'd had the temerity to record and put out on some itty bitty label a punk version of 'Stairway to Heaven'. As a result the entire weight of the Zep legal apparatus landed on their shoulders. Investigating this, I put in a call to Zep's manager Peter Grant. No response for several days.

Then, late one night, when I was working away in our little rented house in the Cotswolds, the phone rang. It was the dark voice of Peter Grant - intimidating from the start. I can't remember the gist of the conversation but I do remember how it ended. Grant suddenly said: 'I've got to go now. My rabbit's just died of Myxomatosis.'

[I then spent several hours trawling through my NME Archive but could not find either a printed or original typescript version of this story. Happily thanks to the great blog 'The Devil's Music' all is revealed. The band was Roger and the Goosebumps, a pop/rock band from San Francisco active during the 1970s and early 1980s and resurrected in 2006. The band is best known for its single "Gilligan's Island (Stairway)", a song combining the lyrics to the theme song of the television show Gilligan's Island with the music of "Stairway to Heaven". Led Zep did put their lawyers on to them. Read more on the site, where you can actually see a pic of the original single and listen to it. By the way Plant has since gone on record as saying that it's his favourite cover version of 'Stairway.']


 Brion Gysin

Regular readers of The Generalist will know that one of the consistent features of this blog over the last seven years has been Beat Culture. I was fortunate in the 1980s to interview both William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg but I was entranced by the Beats from my late teens onward and remain to this day a beat aficionado. 

So naturally I know about Brion Gysin or at least I thought I knew until, thanks to Matthew Levi Stevens, I was turned on to this remarkable 72-minute documentary by Nick Sheehan on Gysin's life and times entitled 'FLicKeR' on the UBUWEB site - a truly amazing repository of arcane/occult/cult material in which its easy to get lost for hours - be warned.
 Gysin's reputation has always been overshadowed by Burroughs all-pervasive presence and achievements yet it was he who invented the 'cut-up' technique that Burroughs made his own. 

Brion Gysin staring into the Dreammachine. Photo entitled 'Flicker' was taken by Ian Somerville in Olympia, Paris in 1962.
 He also invented the Dreammachine (with the help of Ian Somerville), the first work of art designed to be experienced with your eyes closed - a radical piece of art technology capable of giving you a drugless high by stimulating the brain's alpha waves. 

He also discovered the Master Musicians of Jojouka in Morocco, running a nightclub where they played regularly, and enabled Brian Jones to make a legendary recording of them. [I have a rare if slightly battered copy of the original 1971 vinyl release on Rolling Stones Records - now a collector's item. Just discovered it was rereleased in a deluxe package in 1995.

Trailer for a film enitled 'The Master Musicians of Joujouka Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival 2008', directed by Daragh McCarthy. Not clear wjhether it has been released yet.

What I didn't realise before was his accomplishments as an artist. At the of 17 he joined the Surrealists but his work, which was inclued in a major Surrealist show that also featured work by Picasso, was withdrawn at the last minute after Andre Breton expelled the young man from brotherhood. His in-depth study of Japanese calligraphy and Islamic art lie at the roots of his visual expression.

The film includes contribution from such luminaries as Iggy Pop, Marianne Faithful, Kenneth Anger, Genesis P. Orridge, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, and John Giorno amongst numerous others, and contains remarkable archive footage. Its a stunning production but - be warned - this is not for the faint-hearted or for those prone to a reaction from flickering lights.

Extraordinary to discover that a) at one point Phillips the electronics company were interested in the Dream Machine and that b) W. Grey Walter, the cybernetics pioneer, was also interested in the 'flicker effect' and its stimulation of the brain waves.

As if this film was not enough to take on-board, Gysin's work is further illuminated by a wonderful website that provides a valuable showcase of his life and achievements: http://briongysin.com/

So I now understand Gysin in a larger way I think that we are only now beginning to really grasp what an important figure he was - or rather is  - because his work continues to have a huge influence.

Fire-damaged front cover of Gysin's Moroccan-based 
novel, a hardbacked 1st edition copy which I bought
in a Harrod's book sale in 1971. I strated re-reading
it this morning and its recpatured my imagination.

 Gysin remains an illusory figure with many identities and personnas who operated at the meeting point between science and art, the occult and the arcane, blending cultures, exploring other dimensions. In the same way that Marcel Duchamp influenced developments in modern art, Gysin's thoughts, artworks, projects and ideas permeate the networks of our electronic culture. He and Burroughs anticipated the Age of Control we live in and devised tools and methods to subvert it and gain true enlightenment.


The work of Matthew Levi Stevens and his partner Emma Doeve can be found at http://whollybooks.wordpress.com/ 

Stevens' booklet 'The Forgotten Agent & The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs', describing his own experiences in the 'Chaos Magic' scene of the 1980s and his meetings with Burroughs and Gysin, is available for purchase from the site.


A major documentary on The Beat Hotel is due for release at the end of this year. More details on the Gysin site and here: http://www.thebeathotelmovie.com/

For the full list of Previous Posts on the Beats, see The History of The Beats. This post is also tagged under Beats.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Fracking protestors convicted

Anti Fracking protestors Ed Lloyd-Davies and Lauren Pepperell  appeared at Preston Magistrates Court PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS. Anti Fracking protestors Ed Lloyd-Davies and Lauren Pepperell appeared at Preston Magistrates Court

Tuesday 17 July 2012 20:58
Three protestors who stormed a drilling site in a protest against fracking have been found guilty of aggravated trespass.Lauren Pepperell, 26, and Edward Lloyd-Davis, 38, scaled a pipe rack at the Cuadrilla Resources site in Bonny Barn Lane, Banks, and hung a banner in protest to the technology being explored at the site.
Barbara Cookson, 61, also went on to the site in the early hours of November 2 last year and along with Lloyd-Davis has also been found guilty of assaulting a security guard who tried to stop them.
All three defendants have been handed two-year  conditional discharges and ordered to pay £750 towards prosecution costs after District Judge Peter Ward said there was a long history of “civil disobedience” in a democratic society. [Source: Lancashire Evening Post]

Source: frack-off,org

Posted 2/19/12
Source: Anti-Fracking Movement on Instagram

Image above: GoogleEath image of quake locations around Lincoln, Oklahoma. From (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kelley_mcdonald/6319498888/in/photostream/). Source: Island Breath blog
When kelleymcd (an anti-fracking activist) uploaded the above image to Flickr in November 2011, he/she noted that it showed:

"earthquakes in Central Oklahoma over the past 36 hours. Another 3.3 happened while I was making this image. This patch is 10 miles x 14 miles in size. Then 5 more aftershocks in the 3.0 range since that."
Kelleymcd clearly attributed the large amount of earthquakes to recent drilling activity—and not without reason. The US Geological Survey (USGS)had already linked 50 Oklahoma earthquakes to fracking, and a British fracking operation had recently fessed up to causing earthquakes in England.

Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono have created  Artists Against Fracking
They have gained the support of 120 artists including  Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore, musicians such as Lady Gaga, producer Mark Ronson and The Strokes, and other celebrities like spiritual guru Deepak Chopra and author Salman Rushdie.


Not everyone is against fracking, See: 

In Tiny Bean, India’s Dirt-Poor Farmers Strike Gas-Drilling Gold


Xuyen Pham’s Garden
East New Orleans, La.
From the Lexicon of Sustainability

 This month, more than 100 growers, co-operative workers, researchers, campaigners and activists met near London to begin the process of building a food sovereignty movement in the UK. [For a detailed account by Amy Horton see the World Development Movement site]
A group called Via Campesino, founded in 1993, first coined the concept of "food sovereignty" ( from the Spanish soberiana alimentaria) which they presented to the World Food Conference in 1996. The concept has evolved and grown and was defined in 2002 as follows:

“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and their societies. Food sovereignty means the primacy of people’s and community’s rights to food and food production, over trade concerns.”

Via Campesina (from Spanish la vía campesina, the campesino way, or the Peasants' Way) describes itself as "an international movement which coordinates peasant organizations of small and middle-scale producers, agricultural workers, rural women, and indigenous communities.' Organised into nine regions,Via Campesina is a coalition of over 148 organizations in 69 countries, representing 150 million people globally, advocating family-farm-based sustainable agriculture.

In 2007 more than 500 representatives of farmers’ networks, unions, social movements and other civil society groups from more than 80 countries gathered in Mali for the Nyéléni World Forum for Food Sovereignty. The outcome of the forum was a call for a radical restructuring of the global food and agriculture system to replace the current system which is largely dominated by the powerful interests of transnational corporations (TNCs). They instead advocated for local and national food systems that empower peasants and small scale farmers.

The forum also defined
food sovereignty as 'the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.'

They defined the six pillars of food sovereignty as:  1) focuses on food for people; 2) values food providers; 3) localises food systems; 4) puts control locally; 5) builds knowledge and skills; 6) works with nature.

In Mali, European groups committed to a similar forum to build food sovereignty in Europe. This happened in Austria in 2011, with the Nyéléni Europe forum, which led to a call to us all to transform our food systems in Europe and realise food sovereignty here. 



Food Sovereignty on 6 Billion Ways

'What is Food Sovereignty on the Fertile Ferment blog

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


  Phytophthora ramorum – a parasitic fungus to look out for

 The recognisable sign of a P. ramorum infection in broadleaved trees is large brown-black cankers on the lower portion of the trunk that seep dark-red sap. Source: Woodlands.co.uk

Eight years ago, the magazine I edited Tree News was the first in Britain to feature a major story on the spread of a microscopic pathogen Phytophthora ramorum,which, at that time, had already infected several species of oak in California and Oregon causing 'Sudden Oak Death' and which had just been detected for the first time on trees in Britain. The worry then was that this could devastate our native oaks.

I conducted interviews with leading experts in the UK and US including Professor Clive Brazier, an emeritus mycologist who was the co-discoverer of the new strain of Dutch Elm disease in the 1970s. He told me: "Phytophthoras are potentially threatening the health of trees and the stability of woods, forests and ecosystems worldwide." 

A few days ago, The Generalist was sent a press release from the Forestry Commission to say a new strain of Phytophthora has just been identified in the UK. In this post, I reprint the intro from the original news feature, which provides a good summary of the background story, followed by the latest developments.

Phytophthora ramorum is one of a genus of some 60 species which attack a vast number of plants including soybean, cacao, strawberries, pineapples, avocados and forest trees. (The Irish potato famine of 1845 was due to potato blight caused by Phytophthora infestans.) The name Phytophthora derives from the Greek and means 'plant destroyer'. Disease caused by Phytophthoras costs agricul­ture, forestry and nursery industries hundreds of billions of dol­lars each year in the US alone.

Phytophthora pathogens are especially difficult to control because of their origins. They come from an entirely different kingdom of life (Protista) to most other plant pathogens and are impervious to most pesticides. The organisms, though fungus-like, are not plant or animal, neither bacterium or virus, nor fungus or algae. They spread easily through air, water and soil.

Global trade in plants and forest products means that there has been what Clive Brasier describes as 'an increasing international spread of Phytophthora pathogens, by man, over the last 200 years'. This has introduced Phytophthora pathogens to new habi­tats and hosts that have not evolved any resistance to them, with damaging, even devastating, results.

Equally significant are the discoveries, over the last ten years, of six new plant pathogens that are all fungal hybrids; these include a new species of Phytophthora and the Dutch elm disease pathogen. Before 1990, records of natural species hybrids in fungi were rare, with fewer than ten clear examples known.

There is a greater possibility of hybridisation when fungi spread beyond their normal geographical ranges. Such accidental hybridisations open the door to the emergence of new diseases, capable of posing threats we cannot yet identify. Computer modelling shows that conditions favourable for Phytophthora attacks on forests are likely to become more common as global warming progresses.


Sunday, July 15, 2012



Lets turn the traditional model of development on its head by uncovering the knowledge, ingenuity of the people at the grass-roots and enable them to develop their insights and inventions. Welcome to the world of the Honey Bee Network. 

This intro to an interview with its founder Prof. Anil Gupta in SGI Forum, a Buddhist quarterly, explains the basics. Full text here:
'Working with the poor of India, Professor Anil Gupta was struck by the creativity and innovativeness that he saw. In 1988, he started the Honey Bee Network to discover, share and promote grassroots innovation to the benefit of both innovators and the global public.

'One method of discovery is twice-yearly treks (shodh yatra) by members of the network through the rural areas of India. The network now exists in 75 countries, and its newsletter is published in eight languages. Gupta has also since established the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (www.sristi.org) and the Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (www.gian.org) that, respectively, help scale up and convert grassroots innovations into viable products.

'In cooperation with the government of India, he established the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), which holds national competitions, including among children, to encourage new inventors and helps sustain them through the National Micro Venture Innovation Fund. The NIF has a database of more than 160,000 innovations and traditional knowledge practices, the largest of its kind (for examples, see www.nif.org.in/bd/product_list). Gupta has also established an online portal (www.techpedia.in) to challenge university students to solve various problems of the poor and micro, small and medium enterprises.'


Mansukhbhai Prajapati was making clay water filters in 2001, when the Gujarat earthquake struck. A newspaper carried a photograph of him the next day, with the pieces of his shattered clay pots around him, above the caption “the broken fridge of poor.” This was the inspiration behind his own double-walled clay refrigerator, Mitticool, the first version of which was sold to a local civil engineer in 2005. Today, a few awards and several magazine and newspaper stories later, Mansukhbhai has become one of the faces of indigenous innovation in India. Prof. Anil Gupta, of the Honey Bee Network, holds him up as “a shining example of a successful enterprise that combines technology with traditional knowledge to deliver sustainable solutions.”

Source: 'The Business of Rural Refridgerators'  by Avinash on Little Design Book [2nd Nov 2010]

Links:Anil Guptar's Honey Bee manifesto on SlideShare [posted 29th Sept 2009]

The Honeybee Network: Grassroots Innovation by Kathryn Lewes on the ETSY blog [5th Nov 2011]

Anil Gupta and the Honey Bee Network by Sarah Rich on WorldChanging [21st March 2007]

A Hive of Ideas by Peter Day [BBC News 11th Jan 2006]
The Honey Bee Network is one of the most remarkable organisations on earth, and if you have never heard of it, then you probably ought to have done.

Big thanks to Andy Stirling for tipping me off



Richard Register, Bejing, China

Richard Register is a pioneer of ecocity thinking and is widely credited as the man who coined the term. His work and thoughts have found practical expression in many countries of the world through Ecocity Builders, the organisation he founded in 1992. 

Site includes a very long A-Z list of some of the world's other leading eco-city practitioners

Source: '5 Most Crucial Eco-city Projects'. on 21st Century Architecture

Ecocity Builders are consulting to the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Administrative Committee (STECAC) that is responsible for the building of a flagship Chinese ecocity project currently in construction. The size of Manhattan, it will eventually house 350,000 citizens. It is the prototype for a new generation of compact pedestrian cities that will use 1/10th of the energy and 1/5th of the land of a traditional city.

Video report on the Tianjin project and others in India can be found on a BBC World Service site. The eco-city film is Part 10 of a larger project entitled 'Horizons: An Insight Into the Future of Global Business' (sponsored unfortunately by Dow Chemical).

Richard Register and Paolo Soleri, Ecocity World Summit 2008

Richard Register was inspired as a young man by meeting - by chance - Paolo Soleri, a visionary architect/philospher - who was at that time (the 1970s) engaged in building Arcosanti, an experimental town in the mountains of central Arizona, to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimising the impact on the earth. Over 6,000 people have helped in its construction and work continues to this day. The guiding principle behind his work is arcology (combining architecture and ecology).

Saturday, July 14, 2012



 The Rio Earth Summit 2012 has past and and gone, resulting in a wishy-washy document called 'The Future We Want' full of bland fine-sounding language and very few action plans. This was a meeting of heads of States who, at the 1992 Rio Summit, created two intergovernmental institutions to tackle the urgent issues of climate change and loss of biological diversity. Both institutions have failed to get signatory governments to follow through on their commitments.

In a thought-provoking piece in Nature, entitled 'The Corporate Climate Overhaul'  Pavan Sukhdev argues that this is not working because the private sector is not at the table.This is essential because, writes Sukhdev, 'The private sector produces almost everything we consume, generating more than 60% of global gross-domestic product.' But, he argues, corporations must evolve if they are to play a major role in achieving a sustainable world.
'Today's corporation is, on average, an economic agent lacking in social purpose and focused on financial return to shareholders...It produces today's 'brown' economy, delivering private gains at the expense of public losses by increasing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.'

'Corporations not consumers are in the driving seat and they are driving us in the wrong direction.Corporate advertising converts our insecurities into a chain of wants, needs and excessive demands, which have made our ecological footprint exceed the planet's ability to produce resources and absorb emissions by more than 50%.

'We are now consuming nature's capital, not its interest. And yet we have enshrined this corporate model in business law and practice, and, indeed, celebrated it as a crowning success of our times. The rules of the game need to be changed.' 

'The new type of corporation, which I call Corporation 2020, can still be profitable while contributing to a 'green economy': one that increases human well-being and social equity, and decreases environmental risks and ecological scarcities.'

There is now an organisation called Corporation 20/20 dedicated to exploring the possibilities of this system redesign thinking. One of their mission papers concludes: ' Amidst unprecedented growth in the scale, reach and footprint of corporations, sufficient evidence exists to support the possibility of a latent but powerful movement to reshape the purpose of corporations in a form that aligns with 21st century imperatives.'

Saturday, July 07, 2012



Source: Terra Antiqvae. Scroll down for English text.

The most important archaeological discovery of our time is only slowly seeping into mainstream awareness.Göbekli Tepe is a gently rounded mound rising 50ft above the surrounding landscape in south-eastern Turkey. Its name means ‘belly hill’ in Turkish.

This gigantic Stone Age site site is an artificial hill containing  huge temple structures made of massive stone pillars arranged in circles, much of them elaborately carved with a menagerie of menacing creatures.

Each ring (the largest is 65ft across), has two large T-shaped pillars in the centre; the tallest so far found is 15ft high and weighs 7-10 tons. The site is reliably dated at around 10,000BC.

This makes it the oldest known large-scale human structure and ceremonial site, predating Stonehenge (3000-2000BC) and the building of the Pyramids (which reached its zenith at 2575-2150BC).

Abundant remains of the bones of wild animals (more than 60% gazelles) and no sign of domesticated animals or farming, confirms this site was built by hunter-gatherers.

Only 5% of the site has been excavated to date, by Dr Klaus Schmidt and his team over the last 18 years. They have uncovered or partially-uncovered five ring structures so far. Detailed scans of the 22-acre site reveal at least 16 others buried beneath the surface.

Revealing the full-scope of this extraordinary site may take another 50 years. Understanding why and how Göbekli Tepe was constructed may take even longer.

Göbekli Tepe is not only possibly “the first human-built holy place”, says Schmidt, but also “the real origin of complex Neolithic societies.”

The standard view is that it was only after humans had discovered agriculture and built settled communities that they then had the resources to support the building of temples and complex social structures.

Göbekli Tepe suggests that it was the process of building the temple,which would have required hundreds of workers, that led to settled communities in the surrounding area and the birth of agricultural practices.

Deeper still, believes Schmidt, lies the structure’s real purpose – it was the hunters’ final burial ground or the centre of a death cult.


Gobekli Tepe

The basic facts in this intro are drawn from two great magazine pieces which provide a excellent starting point.

Göbekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple? by Andrew Curry (Smithsonian magazine/Sept 2008)

Göbekli Tepe: The Birth of Religion by Charles C. Mann(National Geographic/June 2011). Short extracts from an article that sets GT in a much wider context.

‘Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known example of monumental architecture—the first structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut. When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.’


‘Puzzle piled upon puzzle as the excavation continued. For reasons yet unknown, the rings at Göbekli Tepe seem to have regularly lost their power, or at least their charm. Every few decades people buried the pillars and put up new stones—a second, smaller ring, inside the first. Sometimes, later, they installed a third. Then the whole assemblage would be filled in with debris, and an entirely new circle created nearby. The site may have been built, filled in, and built again for centuries.

‘Bewilderingly, the people at Göbekli Tepe got steadily worse at temple building. The earliest rings are the biggest and most sophisticated, technically and artistically. As time went by, the pillars became smaller, simpler, and were mounted with less and less care. Finally the effort seems to have petered out altogether by 8200 B.C. Göbekli Tepe was all fall and no rise.’

‘In 10 or 15 years," Schmidt predicts, "Göbekli Tepe will be more famous than Stonehenge. And for good reason."

Portrait of Dr Schmidt. Source: Fortean Times


GOBEKLI TEPE UPDATES is a blog containing images, videos and sound interview of the unfolding story. Frustratingly designed !

Gobekli Tepe official site


This post was triggered by talking with two friends of mine who have just spent a month travelling round Turkey visiting archaeological sites.

Friday, July 06, 2012


Liberia home to these African forest elephants, has lost 95% of its elephant population in a few decades. Only 1,000 remain. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Elephant poaching levels are the worst in a decade and recorded ivory seizures are at their highest levels since 1989, according to a report (PDF) published two weeks ago by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

According to data from the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), three of the five years in which the greatest volumes of ivory were seized globally occurred in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

In 2011 alone, there were 14 large-scale ivory seizures—a double-digit figure for the first time in 23 years, when ETIS records were first compiled. They totalled an estimated 24.3 tonnes of ivory; more than in any previous year.

Full Image

1.5 tons of ivory were seized in May 2012 in Sri Lanka

Large-scale ivory seizures (those involving >800 kg of ivory in a single transaction), typically indicate the participation of organised crime.

China and Thailand are the two primary destinations for illegal ivory consignments exported from Africa according to the seizure data. Seizures of large ivory consignments in Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam since 2009, were believed to be in transit to China and Thailand.

Most of the ivory smuggling containers leave the African continent through Indian Ocean seaports in East African countries, primarily Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania.

“Evidence is steadily mounting which shows that African elephants are facing their most serious crisis since international commercial trade in ivory was generally prohibited under CITES in 1989”, said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC’s Elephant and Rhino Programme Leader and the Director of ETIS.

Poaching levels are increasing in all countries where African elephants occur, and may be leading to dramatic declines in some populations, but particularly in Central African countries, where poaching levels are highest. This was brought to international attention earlier this year by the killing of hundreds of elephants in Bouba Ndjida National Park in Cameroon.

There are also disturbing indications that the illegal killing of elephants has increased in recent years in Asia too, although data are hard to obtain.


The most recent continent-wide compilation of African elephant (Loxodonta africana) numbers dates back to 2007, when there were at least half a million elephants in Africa, and perhaps as many as 700,000, spread over some 3.3 million km², an area slightly larger than India. New survey data on African elephant populations are currently being analysed and an update on elephant numbers is expected later this year.

The global Asian elephant population is estimated at around 30,000–50,000, with a geographical range of around 878,600 km² (an area smaller than Pakistan), which is only 10% of the historical range.


Source: The Wildlife Protection Society of India. Graphic found on Travelmride.com




Agony and Ivory

Highly emotional and completely guileless, elephants mourn their dead—and across Africa, they are grieving daily as demand from China’s “suddenly wealthy” has driven the price of ivory to $700 a pound or more. With tens of thousands of elephants being slaughtered each year for their tusks, raising the specter of an “extinction vortex,” Alex Shoumatoff travels from Kenya to Seattle to Guangzhou, China, to expose those who are guilty in the massacre—and recognize those who are determined to stop it.




One of the many intriguing curiosities of the natural world is the creation of bubble rings by dolphins and beluga whales, which has been observed in dolphinariums and in the wild.

Interest in this phenomenon was created in the late 1990s when photos and videos of this  behaviour first appeared in the media.

The main source was the Sea Life Park Hawaii and the Project Delphis laboratory attached to it, run by the NGO Earthtrust, founded in 1976 to promote the conservation of marine mammals.

An article, Ring Bubbles of Dolphins written for Scientific American in 1996, by two scientists from Project Delphis (which researched dolphin self-awareness and intelligence), a fluid dynamics expert at NASA’s Ames Research Center and Earthtrust’s founder Don J.White, remains one of the few scientific papers available on the topic. [Marten, K., Shariff, K., Psarakos, S., & White, D. J. (1996, August). Ring bubbles of dolphins. Scientific American, 275, 83-87].

‘In recent years, researchers at several oceanariums around the world have reported that a variety of marine mammals can blow smooth, stable rings of air that linger in the water for several seconds… these bubbles are clearly not a spontaneous response to alarm or a standard part of communication.’

The dolphins were observed entertaining themselves by either blowing bubbles from their blowholes  - which, as they rise to the surface, expand in radius and decrease in thickness to form a ring -  or swirling the water with their find or tail and then blowing bubbles into the resulting vortices.

‘[We] believe ring blowing is more common at Sea Life Park Hawaii than at other aquariums; the dolphins here appear to have created a “ring culture” in which novice dolphins learn to make rings in the presence of experts that, in a sense, pass down the tradition.

‘Ring making is a leisurely pastime, so the animals generate rings only when they want to — not on command or for a reward of food. Furthermore, ring making does not seem to be associated with functional behaviors such as eating or sexual activity. ‘






A magnificent shot of a beluga blowing a bubble ring. The provenance of this picture is unclear. It is on two sites http://explow.com/bubble_rings and www.ooodd.com

More pics of belugas blowing bubble rings here.



Divers have learnt to do the same thing. Great portfolio here: http://www.deepocean.net/deepocean/index.php?science09.php

Three other blogs have written on this topic from different angles and contain further links and videos:

Discovering Animal Behaviour 2012

The Gleaming Retort

Ecology.com: Dolphin Bubble Rings

See also: Bubble Rings on Wikipedia

‘Bubble ring play of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): implications for cognition’ by McCowan B, Marino L, Vance E, Walke L, Reiss D. J Comp Psychol. 2000 Mar;114(1):98-106. Get pdf here


Dolphins: The Cove & The History Behind It

Dolphins Revisited

Thursday, July 05, 2012


My Hands are My Heart by Gabriel Orozco<br />











Call me ignorant but I was unaware of the extraordinary and diverse work of the Mexican artist Gabriel Oroczo. This beautiful piece is entitled ‘My Hands Are My Heart’ (1981). So simple yet so powerful. Happily you can see a wide range of his work on this wonderful interactive exhibition on MOMA’s website. Its inspiring.


urban agriculture
Source Front Studio Architects

FSA propose 'Farmadelphia'  - a transformation of urban Philadelphia by introducing farmlands into the city's abandoned plots. On the architect’s site they say "The ‘Farmadeliphication’ of once decrepit buildings into farm structures allows for an organic transformation of history that contributes to the present day fabric. The irony of the farm and the city ceases to be a paradox as both function as one integral machine, combining the pleasure of open sky and land with the richness of city living."


Back in March 2010, The Generalist reported on Julien Temple’s documentary on Detroit which featured a story on how urban farming was transforming the city and how this movement was spreading across America and the world. Returning to the topic two years later, its clear that its accelerating. Interestingly, the western world is learning from the developing world, where urban farming is more prevalent.

My first impetus for this post was reading in Green Building about ‘Carrot City’ – the brainchild of Dr Mark Gorgolewski and colleagues at Ryerson University in Toronto. He writes:

Carrot City is an initiative…that aims to highlight the overlap between local food systems and urban design. It includes a [travelling] exhibition, a book and a website. They all address how the design of cities, urban landscapes, buildings and gardens can facilitate the production and processing of food and the impact that food issues have on the design of urban spaces and buildings. A series of conceptual and realized projects are feat5ured that enable urban food production, helping to re-introduce growing food to our cities.’

There’s a mass of material on the site including 80 of the exhibition boards in three languages.

This led me to a another fantastic resource on the subject: the 2012 issue of ‘Leaf Litter’ the journal/newsletter of Biohabitats, a US-based organisation involved in conservation planning, ecological restoration and regenerative design. There special issue ‘Thoughts on Urban Agriculture’ gives a brilliant overview of the various issues and global state of play with a lot of carefully selected and graded web resources but also two long interviews with Dr Mark Gorgolewski and Novella Carpenter whose book ‘The Essential Urban Farmer’ is a key text as is her best-selling ‘Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer’. The opening essays begins:

‘Today, although more than half of the world’s people live in cities, most of their food is produced elsewhere, often through energy intensive, resource draining, and unsustainable industrial agriculture. Despite the high yields of “factory farms,” many cities now grapple with food security and hunger. With worldwide urbanization increasing, along with concerns in many cities about urban heat island effect, social justice, poor nutrition, declining natural resources, and struggling economies, one has to wonder: can urban agriculture reclaim its significance to life in the city? In many places, it already has.

‘The United Nations Development Programme estimated that 800 million people worldwide were engaged in urban agriculture and related enterprises in 1996, and that number has increased. In Africa, 40 percent of urban dwellers are said to be involved in some form of agriculture, and this figure rises to 50 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. To quote the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, “Urban agriculture needs to be recognized as an important and increasingly central phenomenon of urbanization.”

The images on this post come from a great set of examples of Urban Agriculture on Inspiration Green, which does what it says on the lentil.


roof garden
Source Photo: Business Week, Japan.
The Toyota Roof Garden. Toyota is also marketing grass covered roof tiles.

There’s a very useful Wikipedia entry too.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Travel literature is one of my favourite forms of reading and they don’t come much better than ‘Blue HIghways’ a book to savour and linger over.

Its author William Least Heat Moon sets off in his camper van Ghost Dancing to make a lengthy and eccentric journey travelling the blue highways (B-roads) of America, recording his experiences in meticulous and luminous prose. He has a penchant for towns with bizarre names (his favourite is Nameless, Tennessee) and for diners and bars that have been untouched by the modern world.

In the process he meets more than a hundred characters who he profiles (and in many instances photographs)with great vividness and skill, capturing their life stories and conversation. He is a consummate stylist as well as a fine observer of nature and landscape, bringing to life the unbelievable diversity and vastness of America’s great landmass.

The story behind the book is interesting. William Trogdon, born 1939 of English/Osage ancestry was in a hole. He’d acquired a doctorate in English literature but had lost his job and his marriage had broken down, which meant he’d also lost the house he’d just rebuilt. So in the spring of 1978, he set off to escape, to find himself and a new angle of vision. He took only two books with him: Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Black Elk Speaks.

In the latter, Black Elk talks about the blue roads of a person’s life as being ‘those roads that are destructive to human understanding and human co-operation..largely travelled by people preoccupied with themselves.’

On his three month 13,3889 mile journey, William Trogdon rediscovered his Osage heritage and reverted back to his Least Heat-Moon birth name. For him the journey became an Indian vision quest in which he became less withdrawn and opened himself up to the world and the people he found there.

‘Blue Highways’ was his first book and took eight drafts and four years to write. It was widely rejected by publishers but it entered the New York Times best-seller lists shortly after publication in 1983 and has subsequently sold some 2 million copies.


The Road to Serendipity: An Interview with William Least Heat-Moon by Hank Nuwer.

‘In Depth with William Heat Moon’ is an excellent and lengthy video interview, conducted in August 2005

List of books and other audio interviews on Wikipedia.

‘Crazy Weather’, originally published in 1944, was the only book-length piece of fiction written by Charles L. McNichols, a former naval aviator in World War i who later worked in the movies and wrote for magazines. Often compared to Huckelberry Finn, its a great tale of South Boy, a sensitive young mixed-blood who goes off on a great four-day adventure with his young Mojave friend Havek to prove their manhood as warriors. Its a beautifully written tale which gives great insight into Mojave culture as well as conjuring up breathtaking landscapes and intriguing plot turns.

The beautiful cover of this University of Nebraska Press edition is a section from this amazing ‘Cloud World’ painting by Maynard Dixon. See more of his works here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Over 500 air conditioning units are attached to the windows of the Fuzhou Dalijiacheng Building in China.Apparently, the building’s planners and designers didn’t consider installing a central air conditioning system. The locals refer to the facade as the “Air Conditioner Wall.” For more pics and video see Buzzaurus

Twenty years ago, a Cambridge University anthropologist became the first to sound the alarm.

'In 1992 he wrote the paper "On Condis and Coolth" in the academic journal Energy and Buildings, slamming air conditioning addicts. He labelled them "condis", and their preferred refrigerated climate, "coolth", arguing AC was the ultimate example of needless luxury in an already gluttonous society. In an elegant, influential tirade, Prins warned of worsening "global warming", a term so rarely used at the time that it still warranted inverted commas.

'Prins...once compared the Western world's AC addiction to drug users' crack cravings. "Once one's body has become addicted to air-conditioned air, one has extended one's range of basic, physiological human needs beyond food, shelter and warmth to an acquired need: Coolth," Prins wrote.'
This I learnt from an excellent article by Rob Sharp for The Independent entitled 'Air Conditioning: Cold Comfort, published in 2010 to coincide with the launch of  'Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World ' by Stan Cox which brought wider public attention to the problems associated with the increasing use of air-conditioning units in the US but also globally - particularly in India and China.

Cox revealed that 20 percent of electricity consumption in U.S. homes  - half a trillion kilowatts per year - is being used for air conditioning. This is as much electricity as the entire continent of Africa uses for all purposes. But the real problems now lie in Asia.

Cox told WBUR that there would be a 12-fold increase in electricty consumption for air conditioning in India from 2005-2020. He said in Mumbai alone, they are already seeing 40% of the electricty generated being consumed for air conditioning.

The latest figures show that air conditioning sales in India and China are now growing at 20 per cent a year. In 2011, 55% of new air-conditioning units were sold in the Asia-Pacific region which is now the industry's new production base. In 2011, China was buiklding more than 70% of the world's household air-conditioners for domestic use and export.

As if all this was not enough cause for concern, the New York Times has revealed a far more urgent problem than energy use. The most common coolant used in air-conditioning units - an inexpensive gas HCF-22 - has an effect on global warming which is 2,100 times that of carbon dioxide. [The Washington Post says 4,470 times]

As you may recall, concerns about the damage to the ozone layer led to the 1987 Montreal Protocol which succeeded in virtually eliminating the use of chloroflourocarbons (CFCs). [See Previous Post: Montreal Protocol: The World We Avoided]

 As a result, CFCs have been replaced in air conditioning units and many other appliances by HCFCs which are only mildly harmful to the ozone layer. Sales of these and similar gases have doubled in the past 20 years.

According to the New York Times, 'leading scientists in the field have just calculated that if all the equipment entering the world market uses the newest gases currently employed in air conditioners, up to 27% of all global warming will be attributable to those gases by 2050.'

The full and more complex version of this story is here:
'Cooler Homes, Hotter Planet' by Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew W. Lehren. INew York Times 1 July 2012]

See related and earlier story: CFC Replacements Intensify Climate Concerns' by David A. Fahrenthold [Washington Post. 19th July 2009}

Additional sources: Here is an interesting 40min radio interview with Stan Cox on Boston's WBUR station in May 2010. Read a good Q&A interview with Cox by Dan Watson, published in Grist: 'How Air Conditioning is Baking Our World.'