Sunday, October 18, 2009



The release of the prize-winning documentary      'The Cove' is once more focusing world wide attention on dolphin killing in Japan and the capture of dolphins for dolphinariums.

But little of the coverage refers to the history of the subject. It is important that people realise that this is a battle that has been going on for 30 years or more. This post pays tribute to the pioneer protestors.

'The Cove' focuses on the killings on Iki Island, a topic we covered in the book we produced in the early 1990s - The Greenpeace Book of Dolphins (see Previous Post: DOLPHINS REVISITED). This is part of what we wrote for the book at that time:

IkiDolphin 1_300dpi

'The battle between dolphins and the fishermen of Katsumoto in Iki island... dates back to the early part of the twentieth century. It was then that dolphins were first blamed for disturbing the breeding grounds of the yellowtail, the islanders' main fish catch. The killing of the dolphins remained sporadic, however, until 1976 when yellowtail catches declined and the fishermen protested that it was because of an increased population of dolphins in the area....Between 1976 and 1982, the Iki islanders killed at least 4,147 bottlenose dolphins, 953 false killer whales, 525 Risso's dolphin and 466 Pacific white-sided dolphins.'

Back in 1989 we produced The Greenpeace Story, an official history of Greenpeace which was published by Dorling Kindersley. [See Previous Post: GREENPEACE: THE RETURN TO AMCHITKA]

GP 1349 GP 2350

Blood Bath Trapped in the Japanese slaughter pens, dozens of dolphins are hacked to death. The shocking sight of this massacre spurred Dexter Cate and Patrick Wall into action.

Dolphin Massacre

Three notable actions by Green­peace activists in Japan, in protest against the killing of whales and dolphins, hit the headlines between 1979 and 1981.


Early Greenpeace days in Vancouver with Paul Spong (who first got Greenpeace involved with whales via a group called Project Jonah) and Dexter Cate at far right. [Source: Quad meme blog]

'In 1978, US environmentalist Dexter Cate first witnessed the de­struction of over 1,300 dolphins by fishermen on the Izu Peninsula, 200 kilometres (120 miles) southwest of Tokyo. It was a sight he was un­likely to forget.

He arrived to find some 300 dol­phins penned in nets at the harbour mouth. The water in the harbour was red with blood, following an earlier round-up. As he watched, a fisherman in one of the boats sur­rounding the nets hurled a spear into the milling dolphins, piercing one of them. This random wound­ing served to keep the dolphins in a state of panic and confusion, and prevented them from escaping since they will not abandon an in­jured member of their group.

A dozen dolphins at a time were then winched ashore by their tails. What followed was horrific, as the fishermen went to work with their knives. "Dolphins with bellies slit open thrashed about, whistling in distress as their entrails flopped on the concrete. They didn't lose con­sciousness even as blood gushed from their throats. As we stood there, horrified witnesses, a fisher­man deftly severed the heart from a still quivering dolphin and tossed it aside. It landed less than a yard from my feet, still beating."

The corpses were later dragged to a mincing machine and the flesh was ground up for use as pig food and plant fertilizer.

Cate learned that the dolphins were being held responsible for the alarming decline of yellowtail fish and squid, but he was certain that pollution and overfishing were to blame. When he returned to Japan late in 1979, he discovered that the government now encouraged the killing and were paying a bounty of $80 per head. It was then that Cate turned to civil disobedience.

In the early hours of February 28, 1980, Cate paddled a small inflat­able boat out to Tatsunoshima (Dragon Island), an islet in the bay 800 metres (2,600 feet) off Iki Island, where he untied three ropes and cut a fourth to release 300 dolphins. When the fishermen returned to their nets, Cate recalls: dexter"They were angry, but not abusive. They under­stood, finally, that I had acted from a moral position. They just didn't understand that position."

Neither did a Japanese court. Fol­lowing his arrest, Cate  was charged with criminal damage and denied bail. He spent three months in jail before being given a suspended six-month sentence and deported to his home in Hawaii.'

PHOTO: Dexter was honoured for his action on his return to Hawaii. [Source: Earthtrust]

GP 3351 Greenpeace member Patrick Wall was shocked by what he saw when he travelled to Japan in November 1980 to research the dolphin slaugh­ter at Izu, south of Tokyo. Here dol­phins were killed for food every week during the season. In January 1981, he managed to dismantle 15 metres (50 feet) of the net barricading the slaughter pens and release 150 dolphins before  daybreak. Two days later he gave himself up to the authorities; after three trials and 62 days in prison, he was given a suspended six-month sentence, a three-year pro­bation and told that he couldn't return to Japan for one year.'

Read Dexter Cate's own account in 'The Island of the lordrings3 Dragon' /PETER SINGER (ed), In Defense of Animals
New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985, pp. 148-156

Read cameraman Howard Hall's account of filming Dexter's and Hardy Jones' actions against the dolphin kills.

Hardy Jones founded with actor Ted Danson and continues to campaign to save dolphins. Read his account of the Iki campaign on his blog bluevoicenews


Dexter Cate  drowned while ascending from a deep free dive in the waters near Hawaii. in 1990.

Dexter at Laie, Oahu 1974    photo courtesy of Ian Lind


DO NOT KILL WHALES OR DOLPHINS: A 2008 Visual Petition by Minds In The Water.


An animal rights activist covered in red paint lies on a white sheet made to look like a Japanese flag during a protest against dolphin slaughter in Madrid, Sept. 3, 2008. (Susana Vera/Reuters)

Latest News:

Ric O'Barry talks about The Cove: The former dolphin trainer's life changed the day one of his charges appeared to commit suicide by Jacqui Goddard.

Source: The Times/16th October 2009

Taiji tests residents' hair to gauge mercury levels from dolphin meat

By MINORU MATSUTANI/The Japan Times/15th October 2009

In Japan, fishermen round up and slaughter hundreds and even thousands of dolphins and other small whales each year /

'It is commonly assumed that Japanese fishermen hunt dolphins to supply a small minority of Japanese people with dolphin meat. But unlike the expensive whale meat, dolphin meat is not considered a delicacy in Japan, and the real reason the Japanese government issues permits to kill dolphins by the thousands every year has nothing to do with food culture. It has to do with pest control. As shocking as it sounds, some Japanese government officials view dolphins as pests to be eradicated in huge numbers. During a meeting at Taiji City Hall, the fishermen of Taiji admitted this to us. "We don’t kill the dolphins primarily for their meat. We kill them as a form of pest control," they told us. In other words, killing the competition is their way of preserving the ocean’s fish for themselves. '

Source: Earth Times/12th October


Sea of blood as Japan slaughters thousands of dolphins by Mick Brown/Telegraph 3rd Oct 2009.

Every year, thousands of dolphins are herded into a tranquil cove in Japan where some are captured for sale to marine parks, the rest slaughtered for their meat.

"It's Dante's Inferno for dolphins" By Justin McCurry - GlobalPost /September 25, 2009



A storage building at the large open-air Folkemuseum in Oslo [Source: Dr Anne Galloway's Purselipsquarejaw blog]

One main reason for less posts than usual of late is the fact that I have been writing a book on vernacular architecture, which is to be published in May 2010 by Thames & Hudson in the UK and Rizzoli in New York. [There is also an Italian edition]

The book is entitled 'Handmade Houses & Other Buildings: The World of Vernacular Architecture' and is a fully illustrated guide to a selection of vernacular buildings around the globe.

This is a fascinating subject and a very timely one. Vernacular architecture can be simply defined as the architecture of the people, largely designed and built by communities, families and self-builders. The majority of the world live and work in such buildings; a small minority inhabit buildings designed by architects.

A broad generalisation would be to say that vernacular architecture has been sidelined and ignored by the architectural profession but there are signs in many parts of the world that this is changing.

It is certainly a subject that is little known to the mainstream and I am hoping my book will make this important subject accessible to a broader audience.

The Generalist will be featuring regular posts on Vernacular Architecture as there is an incredible wealth of stories out there.



One of the most important issues of our time is the squatter cities of the world, where vast number of incoming country people fabricate dwellings from scrap and waste materials. These evolve overtime and become more substantial. This is the new vernacular architecture of our time.

This subject ties in with the last two posts, as Stewart Brand has given a TED talk about squatter cities.


A view of Favela Morumbi, one of the largest shanty town zones in Sao Paulo. [Source: 'Slum Tours of Sao Paulo' by Paul Kedrovsky]

He says the move to the cities is the largest movement of people in history. It is happening at a rate of 1.3million people a week which makes 70m people a year. We have recently passed the point when more than half of the world's population live in cities. Brand sees this as a major 'tipping point.' Here, he says, are people working to get out of poverty as quick as they can. There's no unemployment in squatter cities - everyone works. Brand views this as the 'dark energy' of economic theory. One-sixth of India's GDP, for example, comes from the squatter city of Mumbai. In addition, when people move to cities, the birthrate drops dramatically. He claims that the world population will reach 8 or 9 billion and then drop off dramatically.

Another key figure to pay attention to on this subject is 1327_253x190 Robert Neuwirth, author of the a book on the subject entitled 'Shadow Cities.' To write the book he actually lived in squatter communities on four continents over a two-year period and thus is able to report from the ground. His aim is to humanise these maligned settlements and says these are vibrant self-organising communities living in places where there are no regulations.See his TED talk here

There's a film he shot in Lagos on YouTube here.


'Start with discarded cardboard boxes. Move to sticks covered with plastic sheets. Then, maybe, to mud-patty
walls. A few years on, to scavenged metal and brick. Finally, bring in concrete, rebar, plastic pipe and prefab windows. This is the natural progression of the architecture of some of the most vibrant neighbourhoods on earth.'
[Source: Onesmallproject]

He also has been running an excellent Squatter City blog for the last four years. He reported yesterday on the police helicopter that was shot down over the favelas of Rio.

According to his article 'Architects of Our Future' in New logo Internationalist: 'Mumbai is the headquarters of a worldwide squatter organizing effort called Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI). SDI got its start under a different name back in the 1970s. The movement is now international with chapters in 14 countries.'


home-brick Was fascinated by a recent article in The Times entitled 'Reinventing the humble brick to cut carbon emissions' by Mike Harvey.

Bricks made mostly of fly ash - a by-product of coal-fired power plants, considered a pollutant - have been developed by CalStar Products in California.

Clay bricks have been made the same way for 3,000 years. These new bricks are chemically manufactured and, the company claim, require 90 per cent less energy and generate 90 per cent less CO2 than traditional bricks.

The Brick Industry Association of America object to the company calling it a 'brick'; they think it should be called a 'fly ash modular unit.'

Saturday, October 17, 2009



Listen to an interview with Brand talking about the 1960s on this Rolling Stone podcast.

Brand concludes the ’60s produced at least one good thing: The Grateful Dead: 'Communes failed, drugs went nowhere, free love led pretty directly to AIDS. A lot of people thought Mao Tse-tung was a hero. Domes leaked. Graphic art was dreadful, except for Andy Warhol and Robert Crumb, the underground cartoonist. The rest was basically tie-dye. Music was good.'


Has 70-year-old Stewart Brand lost the plot? Some might think so on the evidence of his new book 'Whole Earth Discipline'  [Viking 2009] and judging by his TED presentation at the US State Department, both of which are of great interest, even if you completely disagree with his take. [From the TED link you will find further biographical details, links to other TED speeches and numerous Brand websites.]

 41jPzpLf-VL._SS500_ In essence, Brand believes that we have to do a number of things if we are to save the planet from extinction: embrace George Bush's plan for building a network of nuclear micro-reactors across the globe; expand the use of genetically-modified crops; support plans to geo-engineer the planet as a way of tackling the problems of global warming. Brand perceives these to be highly practical tools that we must urgently employ if we want to survive.

PREVIOUS POSTS:                                                                                                 THE GLOBAL NUCLEAR ENERGY PARTNERSHIP  (July2007) / PLANET NEWS (Sept 2007) about The Climate Engineers, an excellent and detailed essay by James R. Fleming in the Wilson Quarterly

First knowledge of this came to The Generalist via an excellent interview  in the brilliant Seed magazine, in a piece entitled  'A Manifesto for the Planet' by Maywa Montenegro

Brand says he'd 'accumulated a set of contrarian views on some important environmental issues— specifically, cities, nuclear energy, genetic engineering and geoengineering ...That led me to the larger strategy of trying to move the environmental movement from a romantic identification with nature toward a more scientific basis. And moving on from that, toward an engineering approach to solving environmental problems.'

Brand believes we must abandon 'faith-based' environmentalism', forsaking ideology for the good of the planet.

Seed: Can you tell me about your vision of the Greens and the Turquoises?
SB: I question whether “green” or “environmentalist” will be a big enough tent to contain a growing variety of disunity within the modern environmental community. People who are fiercely against nuclear have very little good to say to someone who is otherwise totally green but likes nuclear.

'So one approach is to say, okay, there are different flavors of green—the traditional “Greens” and this other thing. I wanted a name for them, so I just called them “Turquoises,” mixing green and blue. There’s enough work to keep both of them busy with more projects than they can possibly handle. Traditional Greens are already good at things like preserving, protecting, and restoring natural systems. The Turquoise types may be the ones who find new ways to push these projects in cities. Here I think they can collaborate completely, or almost completely. '


md-fall-1968-1010-cover Stewart Brand has always been a seminal figure in the world of 'The Generalist' not least for being the founder in 1968 of 'The Whole Earth Catalog' - one of the major publishing enterprises of the 1970s and beyond. Its many forms and editions were always intellectually stimulating, full of ideas, books and tools that cried out to be studied and used. From this sprang the CoEvolution Quarterly, to which I contributed an article. (SEE PREVIOUS POST: THE BERING BRIDGE PROJECT )

For full history and current status of publications see: Whole Earth Mag from where you can download a pdf copy of the Whole Earth Catalog cheaply.

But Brand, who I once had lunch with in a smart Mayfair restaurant (for a piece in the Sunday Times in December 1980), was a broader influence than that. SEE NEXT POST: The Whole Earth Enterprise.TRUX SPACE GAME344

Image from An Index of Possibilities shot in an amusement arcade in Leicester Square London c. 1972/73 showing an early electronic computer game. Can anybody identify it ?

We had read his piece in Rolling Stone  - 'Space War :  Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums'  [7th December 1972] about the very first computer game, and followed his interests in the emerging digital culture, leading, amongst other things, to the founding of the WELL, which makes him one of the inventors of social networking.


Books from The Generalist Archive:  The Media Lab (1987) and The Whole Earth Software Catalog (1984). The latter is a treasure trove for those interested in retro computing.

Brand's huge range of achievements are studied in great detail in the excellent and important book 'From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism' by Fred Turner [University of Chicago Press. p/b 2008] which credits Brand as being a key linking figure between two worlds.

The blurb describes its as:  '...the previous untold story of a highly influential group of San Francisco Bay entrepeneurs...Between 1968 and 1998, via such familiar venues as the Whole Earth Catalog, the computer-conferencing system WELL, and, ultimately, Wired magazine, Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running collaboration between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools for personal liberation, the building of a virtual and decidedly alternative communities, and the exploration of bold new social frontiers. Turner's fascinating book reminds us that the distance between the Grateful Dead and Google, between Ken Kesey and the computer itself, is not as great as we might think.'

SEE PREVIOUS POST: What the Dormouse Said: Counter-Culture and Computing Extended review of the book by New York Times science writer John Markoff [Viking Books. 2005]

Brand is an important figure. His new ideas, which will be unpalatable to many, nevertheless have a force to be reckoned with. His impressive track record of being ahead of the curve gives added weight to his thesis. The Generalist will be following his work and the progress of these ideas in future posts.



       Stewart  Brand on-board his house-boat in Sausalito.  2009.  Source: 70point8percent blog


This article was originally written on the 17th December 1980 for the Focus section of the Sunday Times.

Like an alternative Henry Luce, Stewart Brand began his Whole Earth enterprise with two friends in a garage in San Francisco in 1968. By the time the 'Last Whole Earth Catalog' appeared in 1971, the book had become the standard reference point for a generation of young Americans.

It provided them with the tools, both physical and intellectual, to explore new experimental lifestyles, develop alternative sources of energy and promote the new ecological insight gained from NASA imagery. Whole Earth became an image, an attitude, a lifestyle of the times. The book became a publishing phenomena,selling 1,600,000 copies.

In 1974, Brand launched the 'Whole Earth Epilog' and a spin-off publication, 'Co-Evolution Quarterly', currently selling some 40,000 copies an issue, and has just sunk $80,000 ( half of which is his own) into 'The Next Whole Earth Catalog', a monster book weighing 5 1/2 lbs with 6O8 pages containing evaluations of some 3000 products.

The range and length of subject matter provide a useful indicator of social changes as viewed from Marin County. Items on solar energy have boomed from two to 63. Computers have shot up from two to twelve pages. Domes have disappeared - they leaked -and free schools have gone, to be replaced by an interest in home teaching. Neil Postman's 'Teaching As A Subversive Activity' has been superseded by the author's new book,' Teaching As A Conserving Activity'.

Brand writes: 'Many years ago China was the model for radical America; now America is the model for technical and economic China. The interest in crafts and practical tools remains, as does growing cannabis. As Brand wryly points out: 'Tens of thousands of Americans have been introduced to the joys of gardening by first growing their own dope. Later they diversified to food.'

There's more coverage of sex,  Brand being in favour of sophisticated recreation and against accidental procreation. Underground architecture, care of the dying, wind surfing, and fantasy games are some of the new buzz topics. There's essays on how to use animals that have been run over on the highway, an attack on metrication, an essay on the Four Illusions of Money and a detailed piece on amateur insemination programmes whereby gay women can make themselves pregnant plus details on how to urinate in zero-gravity, written by an ex-astronaut.

But the major theme of the book is: 'Large scale boom and bust. Small scale adaptability.' Brand is critical particularly of the nature of modern publishing with its emphasis on novelty, which allows many classic books to go out of print. For the record, he considers 'A Pattern Language' by Christopher Alexander et al, a fascinating study of architecture and planning, to be the best and most useful book in the whole Catalogue.


Christopher Alexander is Professor in the Graduate School and Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the father of the Pattern Language movement in computer science, and A Pattern Language, a seminal work that was perhaps the first complete book ever written in hypertext fashion. He has designed and built more than two hundred buildings on five continents. For more see Pattern Language site

He has a clear idea of his target audience, which consists partly of his contemporaries 'who have aged into positions of responsibility (one of us governs California) with most of our generation's premises surprisingly intact', plus the new college age population and thirdly, the 'vast citizenry' who are feeling the pinch of Inflation.

Brand doesn't foresee deep economic hardship ahead but Random House Editor-in-Chief Jason Epstein does and he is distributing the book because he thinks people will need it to save their lives. Brand's attitude may reflect his own personal changes to a more affluent lifestyle and certainly has much to do with his links into the Californian power structure.


Gregory Bateson/ Source: Bruce Eisner's Vision Thing

This volume may be dedicated to Gregory Bateson - a pioneer in anthropology, psychology and cybernetics, who died recently -but there's no doubt that Brand's new mentor is his longtime friend Governor Jerry Brown.


Jerry Brown running for governor in 1974/  Jeff Robbins [Associated Press]

At one point he writes of him: 'The special appeal of the man, besides his intelligence, is his willingness to learn before your very eyes and include you in the process.1 Both Brand and astronaut / contributor Rusty Schweikart are paid advisers to Brown and all three share a mutual obsession with space colonies and other offworld projects, which are examined in depth in the book and reflected in the cover imagery and perhaps the title itself.


Rusty Schweikart/ Source: Apollo Astronaut Autographs

One of the most interesting themes in the book is what Brand describes as 'trees-as-a-solution-to-everything' which includes a profile of the Hoedads, named after the basic tree-planting tool, a 200-person cooperative in the State of Oregon, involved in reforestation.

But surely a book of this size must have only added to the global tree problem? Brand's thought about that one. He's worked out that the first print run required 6,610 trees, some 14 acres of forest, to produce it. If he gets his target readership of 140,000, then it will only need 5% of them to plant one tree, for there to be a net tree gain on the whole project.

Smart thinking.