2023 is the year for guerilla art. It is not really a matter of choice. The world is burning, and the insanity of fossil fuel consumption has to stop. This weblog post is the second of two parts. It is about the hows, developing skills to become a guerilla artist. The first part was about the whats, supporting Tuvalu’s call for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.
Guerilla arts #1
Yet another of my favourite books is The Guerilla Art Kit (2007). Keri Smith, the author, taught conceptual illustration at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, in Vancouver. She then went on to live in NYC. She is a street art enthusiast, and regards guerilla art as free, accessible and for everyone. She then encourages everyone to find their inner guerilla artist, quoting Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948): “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
The Guerilla Art Kit is about leaving your mark. Yet, all of the exercises in Keri’s book/ kit are meant to be temporary/ transitory. She challenges readers to make pieces that embody impermanence. The biggest hurdle in creating guerilla art is deciding what ideas a person wants to promote.
Guerilla arts #2
Approaches to guerilla art:
1. beautifying: altering surroundings.
2. questioning: challenging the status quo.
3. interacting with people or the environment.
4. Reflect on the three things you want to put into other people’s heads.
Essentials: small toolkit, paint, wheat paste, brushes, gloves, something to carry leave-behinds and/ or stensils, clothing with pockets, that doesn’t signal deviance. Consider high-vis clothing, they can make you anonymous day or night.
Guerilla arts #3
Why is advertising in public spaces (billboards, bus shelters, etc) considered acceptable, but free personal expression is regarded as damaging, if not illegal? It may be preferable to post things on temporary construction walls, than on privately owned buildings.
Scouting is a preliminary step to producing guerilla art. Look for potential locations (Keri suggests: temporary walls, empty planters, objects that could be turned into characters) but based on the project a person wants to do. Avoid: security cameras, signs prohibiting posters/ signs, police.
Start small. Choose a familiar place. Suggestions: quiet alleys or in the woods. Decide the time of day that feels right. Work quickly. Bring a lookout.
Guerilla arts #4
My 2023 Guerilla art project will support Tuvalu and demand an international fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, which would phase out the use of coal, oil and gas.
I am especially critical to the greenwashing of hydrogen. The various colours of hydrogen were discussed in a weblog post, nominally about Toyota.
To begin with, everyone loves hydrogen because, when it burns, it combines with oxygen to create energy = heat, with water as the resulting end product: 2H2 + O2 → 2H20. That means there is no production of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, some methods used to create hydrogen produce carbon dioxide.
Blue hydrogen is hydrogen produced from natural gas using steam methane reforming, where natural gas is mixed with very hot steam = water = H20, and a catalyst. A chemical reaction occurs creating hydrogen and carbon monoxide: CH4 + H20 → 3H2 + CO. More water is then added to that mixture, turning the carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide and more hydrogen: CO + H20 → H2 + C02 , or as a combined equation: CH4 + 2H20 → 4H2 + C02. If the carbon dioxide emissions are captured and stored underground, the process is considered carbon-neutral. The resulting hydrogen is labelled blue.
This is controversial engineering. One challenge is methane emissions from fugitive leaks = leaks of methane from the drilling, extraction, transportation and processing. Some estimates place these at between 10 to 20% of the gas extracted.
Methane does not last in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, but does more damage as a greenhouse gas. Over 100 years, one gram of CH4 is equivalent to 28 – 36 g of CO2. Even if the amount of methane that escapes into the atmosphere is 10% of that extracted, it represents, somewhere around three times the damage as the CO2 produced from burning methane.
In Norway, Shell, Aker Clean Hydrogen and CapeOmega are going to produce hydrogen at a Hydrogen Hub using natural gas (mostly methane) from a local processing plant on the island of Aukra, near Molde. The gas would come ashore from the Ormen Lange field in the North Sea, to be initially processed at the Shell plant at Nyhamna.
Shell is also an owner of the Northern Lights Joint Venture, a CO2 transportation and storage partnership, which it claims will provide emission-free hydrogen to consumers, because all the emissions will be captured and stored. I have serious doubts about their capability to achieve this.
The guerilla art project about this situation, will start life just behind the workshop facing Trondheim fjord. In particular, it will look at evocative but non-descriptive names, such as Northern Lights, that lull people into accepting damage because of a cute name.
This weblog post is about food, in an increasingly environmentally stressed world. To begin, there are comments about the food systems pavilion at Cop27, the annual United Nations climate change conference, held at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, between 2022-11-06 and -20. Most of today’s weblog post looks at both the past and the future of food. The past is symbolized by the cow, and the coke bottle; the future by fermentation vats, and the rewilding of agricultural land.
Food Systems Pavilion
The Food Systems Pavilion offered Cop27 participants 11 days of programming about transforming food systems, as part of climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience. Below is a list of themes. A program booklet is available about the program.
2022-11-06 Enhance resilience to climate and shocks.
2022-11-08 Enable a culture of sustainable, healthy and nutritious diets.
2022-11-09 Increase sustainable investments and financing to build food systems.
2022-11-10 Accelerate innovation and digitalization.
2022-11-11 Boost nature positive production and soil health.
2022-11-12 Scale climate resilient agriculture
2022-11-14 Embrace sustainable water and aquatic blue food diversity for climate smart food systems.
2022-11-15 Champion youth action in food systems.
2022-11-16 Protect and restore nature.
2022-11-17 Transform value chains and develop inclusive markets.
The current food system is broken and unequal: Three billion people can’t afford a healthy diet; over two billion people suffer from micro-nutrient deficiencies; two billion people are overweight; almost five hundred million people are underweight; one third of greenhouse gasses are produced by the current food systems.
Nordic/ Scandinavian approaches were presented on 2022-11-12.
Much of the content in this section, is from George Monbiot (1963 – ), author of Regenesis: Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet (2022) and the Reboot website, where he is quoted as saying: The elephant in the room at Cop27 is the cow. But thankfully this time, there really is a recipe for success. By rebooting our food systems with precision fermentation we can phase out animal agriculture while greatly increasing the amount of protein available for human consumption..
In my daily life, I do not practice the principles found in the reboot manifesto. Currently, it is just not available. However, as a chemical engineering student, I worked with bacteria in fermentation vats. My graduating essay relates to its use, along with genetic engineering, including gene splicing, in the production of antibiotics rather than food. In both cases, the principles are the same. Thus, I have a belief that these can be the foods of the future. Unlike today’s processed foods, that typically remove nutrition, but leave tasty yet empty calories, I have a firm belief that foods based on the use of fermentation vats, can be engineered into nutritious, healthy, tasty foods.
Confession 1: We currently buy milk and eggs directly from local farmers. In addition, we eat cheese, and I drink a type of buttermilk the local dairy – so far – has been unable to produce. However, I have assisted them in a trial production of a substitute. Other animal based products we eat include honey and meat. Of the twenty-one meals we eat weekly, about four of them contain meat: one with fowl (turkey sometimes, but mainly chicken), two with fish (white fish once, salmon once) and one with red meat.
The Reboot Manifesto
[People] are standing on the cusp of a revolution, a food revolution, one unprecedented since the dawn of farming 10,000 years ago. Agriculture today is the largest single cause of biodiversity loss and emits more greenhouse gases than all our cars, planes and ships put together. Most of the damage is caused by livestock farming, which on its own covers 28% of the Earth’s surface, more than all the world’s forests combined. The non-human living world is squeezed to the margins, and wild species have been decimated. By weight, just 4% of the world’s mammals are wild, 36% are humans and 60% are our livestock.
But it no longer has to be this way. Game-changing innovations in precision fermentation and biotech now make a different future possible, one where we no longer have to cruelly exploit animals for food, and where the majority of the land currently used for livestock can be returned to nature, even as the world’s population climbs towards 10 billion and the Global South emerges from poverty.
It’s time to Reboot Food.
The four principles of rebooting food are: 1. Make it plant-based.
2. Brew don’t slaughter. Healthy, whole and varied plant-based foods should be at the centre of everything. Animal farming should be phased out and replaced by identical precision fermentation products wherever possible.
3. Use as little land and ocean as possible, rewild everything else.
4. Open source everything to guarantee a just transition.
High yield, low impact farming must be prioritized to make as much space for nature as possible. Farmers should be paid to rewild the spared land. [I am not convinced that this is the best idea in many jurisdictions, because it would allow the private ownership of what are essentially nature reserves, are prevent access to the land. For the mental health of the population, it is important that there be provisions for a general right of access.] The benefits of the food revolution should be shared with all, with new technologies made open source and corporate concentration actively mitigated.
Precision fermentation allows us to move from farming macro-organisms (cows, sheep, pigs) to farming micro-organisms (yeasts and bacteria). Using genetics, these microorganisms can be programmed to produce exactly the same proteins and fats we currently obtain from animals, powered by clean energy from solar, wind and nuclear [I object to treating nuclear power as a sustainable source of energy, in part because current technology requires the storage of waste products for thousands of years]. This [food production] technology is commercially proven and globally scalable, already producing 99% of insulin and 80% of rennet worldwide.
Protein from precision fermentation is up to 40,900 times [Why not say 40 000? A single digit 4, followed by 4 zeros might even be something people could remember] more land efficient than beef, making it technically feasible to produce the entire world’s protein on an area of land smaller than Greater London [Wikipedia says it occupies 1 569 km2. If one allows it to be 1 600 km2, it could form a square 40 km x 40 km which is about 25 miles x 25 miles = 625 square miles]. Precision fermentation products can supplement a shift to plant-based diets, with everything from non-animal milk, cheese and ice cream to non-fish omega-3s. Many of these products have already reached the market in the United States, and could come to Europe soon. In essence, we are talking about a transition to farm-free foods for everything which is currently only available from livestock. But this revolution won’t happen by accident, and isn’t inevitable. Although billions in venture capital funding is pouring into these new innovations, the scale and speed of the transition needs to be [accelerated] with public money and government support. This manifesto calls for a dramatic shift in government support for food and agriculture, away from subsidising legacy animal industries and towards encouraging delicious and low-cost animal-free foods, while supporting a just transition for farmers and fisherfolk currently in these sectors.
To Reboot Food, governments must: 1. Invest 2.5% of GDP over 10 years into rebooting our food systems. 2. Stop subsidies for animal agriculture, pay farmers a land-based subsidy to rewild and sequester carbon instead. 3. Bring agriculture into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) so emissions are capped and costed. 4. Subsidize plant-based food at the point of sale to encourage a mass market. 5. Implement a just transition for farming and fishing communities. 6. Set land use reduction and rewilding targets, suspend organic targets until yields match those of conventional agriculture. 7. Limit patents on food innovation to 10 years and discourage corporate control. 8. Legalise gene editing, genetic modification and other new breeding techniques. 9. Make sustainability labelling mandatory. 10. Ban advertising of land- and carbon-intensive animal-based foods.
[Reboot Food] believe[s] that these measures, when combined, will make the food revolution unstoppable and make nutritious and affordable diets accessible to all the world’s people, while at the same time allowing an unprecedented regeneration of natural ecosystems on spared land. It is the single biggest thing we can do to stop and reverse the sixth mass extinction of biodiversity. And it is essential if we are to respect the Paris targets for tackling the climate emergency. The situation is urgent and the time is now. It’s time to Reboot Food.
Propaganda/ information from www.rebootfood.org // www.replanet.ngo .
Comments: While I am not anti-urbanist, I prefer to live in a rural environment, where I can have lots of trees as neighbours. A diverse community of trees improves the neighbourhood, making it a healthier place for people.
The Coke Bottle
Emma Priestland, a coordinator for Break Free From Plastic, a global alliance of organisations and individuals, said: Coca-Cola sponsoring the Cop27 is pure ‘greenwash’. Coca-Cola is one of the world’s biggest users of plastic. Over four years, we’ve found Cola-Cola to be the world’s top plastic polluter in our annual brand audits. It’s astounding that a company so tied to the fossil fuel industry is allowed to sponsor such a vital climate meeting.
Environmental campaigners described the partnership as baffling. At Cop26 in Glasgow in 2021, a petition called for an end to corporate sponsorship of Cop events, starting with the removal of Cola-Cola. Coca-Cola is the world’s biggest plastic polluter. It produces 120 billion throwaway plastic bottles a year. 99% of its plastics are made from fossil fuels. So far, Coca-Cola doesn’t acknowledge that this is a problem. They fail to explain their climate goals, or how they will end their plastic addiction.
Confession 2: I have drunk cola. Since returning to Norway on 2020-03-20, at the start of the pandemic, I have drunk 2 liters of Pepsi, when I was recovering from Covid-19, starting about 2022-09-13. The first sip tasted so terrible, that I vowed I would not repeat the experience, for the remainder of my lifetime. The orange and ginger beer drinks tasted much better.
Today’s assignment: Ahmed Rady, Coca-Cola’s vice-president of operations for north Africa, said: Coca-Cola’s firm belief that working together through meaningful partnerships will create shared opportunities for communities and people around the world and in Egypt. Comment on the greenwashing in the above sentence, especially related to: 1. meaningful partnerships, and 2. shared opportunities.
The installation of electricity networks is essential for social and economic development. Important buildings in every community, such as schools and hospitals, run better with electricity. Roads become safer, and electricity can be used to give people access to clean drinking water.
A lack of electricity imposes social injustice. Admittedly, I am just a kid of 74, but I have never understood how the world has avoided imposing a universal tax to ensure that everyone has basic services/ infrastructure, such as electricity, clean water, wastewater removal, roads, even the internet.
In terms of electricity:
Close to 1.5 billion people still have no access to electricity. The majority of them live in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 80 % of these live in isolated rural areas and are excluded from development policies.
Three billion people are still dependent on traditional energy sources (candles, paraffin lamps, wood, etc). These forms of energy are often harmful and cause 4,3 million deaths each year.
Sustainable Development Goal No. 7 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly is to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.
In terms of water:
50 % of the world’s population still does not have access to adequate quantities of drinking water.
2,4 billion people, i.e. 30% of the world’s population, do not have access to adequate sanitation.
663 million people live without having a source of clean water.
The aim of Sustainable Development Goal 6 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly is to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
Helping to provide solutions
Electriciens sans frontières (ESF) = Electricians without borders, is a non-governmental international solidarity organization (NGO) created in 1986 and recognized as a public utility by the French Ministry of the Interior on 2013-05-23. It works towards equality of access to electricity and water in the world. It promotes economic/ human development using renewable energies.
Bruno Léchevin (1952 – 2020), a French union leader, is credited with starting ESF in 1986, asking workers in the French electrical sector to use their skills on international solidarity/ development projects, so that electrical energy could act as a developmental lever.
ESF’s goal is to improve the living conditions of the poorest populations, living with energy poverty. It leads access to electricity and water projects in many countries in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. ESF also intervenes during humanitarian crises, notably in the Philippines in 2013 and 2015 following typhoons Haiyan and Ruby; in 2015 in Vanuatu after cyclone Pam; in Nepal after the Gorkha earthquake in 2015; in Haiti after earthquakes in 2010 and 2016; and in 2017 in Saint Martin and Dominica following the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Since 2017-12-19, ESF has been a partner of the Le Centre de crise et de soutien (CDCS) = Crisis and Support Center, to intervene in the event of a humanitarian crisis.
CDCS was founded in 2008, and is a department of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE). It is responsible for monitoring, anticipating, alerting and managing crises taking place abroad and requiring actions in response to a humanitarian emergency, and post-crisis stabilization support. Admittedly, it is specifically concerned about events that threaten the safety of French nationals abroad.
Within the CDCS system, ESF intervened after the Celebes earthquake in Indonesia in 2018; after cyclone Idai in Mozambique in 2018; in Lebanon in 2020, after the port of Beirut explosions.
ESF receives financial support and contributions in kind (labour, equipment, working space) from individual donors, companies, private foundations and public institutions. Volunteer work by members are significant, and represent more than that provided as financial aid.
ESF received the UN Climate Action Award at COP25, for its achievements on the island of Dominica. It received the Zayed prize for sustainable development, following its training program in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.
ESF has defined a vast intervention program for African health care centres, whee each requires an individual response. Needs include: rehabilitation of solar photovoltaic production plants, and even emergency generators in certain cases, in order to guarantee a reliable electricity supply; the refurbishment of interior electrical installations, in order to prevent electrical risks and to allow the use of high-performance medical equipment; installation of surge protectors to protect solar power plants in case of storms; electrification and lighting of additional spaces to increase facility capacity; the provision of refrigerators and respirators; installation of solar pumps to meet water needs; deployment of solar street lights to secure access to health care centers. Starting in 2020, ESF launched programs in 8 African countries: Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cameroon, Senegal, Benin, Niger and Madagascar.
Because the protection of human lives is its first priority, ESF is currently asking for funding to support its work in Ukraine. Their mobilization aims to be strong and long-lasting, but requires external financial support to effectively meet assessed needs.
The French model has been replicated: In Germany, by the NGO Elektriker ohne Grenzen (2012); In Italy by Elettrici senza frontiere (2015); in Spain by Electricistas sin fronteras (2016); In Switzerland by Electriciens sans frontières – Suisse (2018).
The North American (USA and Canada) NGO, Electrical Workers Without Borders in North America (EWWBNA), joined the international network in 2017. Its founding in 2016 is attributed to the efforts of Edwin D. Hill (1937 – 2018) who, as retired international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), built up the organization. Unfortunately, the EWWBNA devotes about half of its website as a eulogy to its founder, which is an inappropriate resource allocation.
These six ESF organizations have signed an agreement specifying their mutual engagements.
Part of the reason I became attracted to ESF are its videos, made by another French NGO, Sikana TV in collaboration with ESF. These provide an introduction to electrical work, so that young people can understand what it entails.
Sikana was founded in 2014 with the aim of equipping people with practical skills through free educational video programs. They observe: that billions of people do not have access to teachers to help them acquire basic skills, unlock their potential and lead happy and dignified lives; three billion people have access to screens that can be transformed into tools for instruction. Video is a powerful and cost-effective medium to promote skill acquisition, as well as health and environmental awareness.
Numbers: 400 million lessons delivered to 230 countries on 2 300 videos in 16 languages with 75 pedagogical programs. They gather communities of volunteers and expert organizations to co-create educational solutions. These are involved in the entire creation process: writing, production, dubbing, dissemination, and development of IT tools. They create pedagogical programs on a wide range of topics: Health, environment, vocational skills, sports and more. Innovative technological tools enable people to collaborate and design content, translate and subtitle it and to make it available to the widest possible audience.
Factory is Sikana’s collaboration tool, allowing volunteers to translate and subtitle educational videos, from their homes. People who are fluent in at least 2 languages can help translate videos that can then be used to provide subtitles and dubbing. Both are needed because some people are illiterate, and cannot read subtitles, while others have hearing disabilities, and cannot hear dubbing.
Digital content is uploaded on the sikana.tv website and shared with partners who disseminate the content in the field. These partners include: Library Without Borders, Learning Equality, Electricians Without Borders, and the Digital Empowerment Foundation.
Sikana France has offices in Paris, Sikana Brazil has offices in Rio de Janeiro, Sikana India has offices in Pondicherry, Sikana Mali has offices in Bamako, and Sikana China has offices in Fuzhou.
The Electricity for Everyone series provides practical lessons to help anyone install electricity in their own residence. Topics are divided into five chapters: 1. An Introduction to electricity (8 videos); 2. How to Prepare Your Workspace (2 videos); 3. Electrical Boards (7 videos); 4. Lighting and Connections (7 videos); 5. Making-Of (1 video). The video lessons are suitable for two main groups of people. First, as a means of introducing individuals to the principles of electricity and to basic circuitry. Second, as a teaching aid to be used by trained electricians, to pass on their electrical knowledge/ skills/ insights to people who need it the most – particularly in the developing world and areas where access to electricity is unstable.
The videos emphasize risks when installing electricity and how to avoid them, how to save energy and how to get the most out of your electrical household appliances.
Another co-operative venture between Sikana and ESF consists of three videos about the installation of solar panels in the Discover Renewable Energy series.
A third series, Lower Your Energy Bills, does not involve ESF, but has been produced with the assistance of the Energies Solidaires organisation, and Energio, a research centre specialising in managing and economizing energy consumption. It is particularly concerned with fuel poverty. It is divided into five chapters: 1. Eco-tips (4 videos); 2. Saving on Your Heating Bills (3 videos); 3. Know Your Energy Consumption (4 videos); 4. Insulating Your Home (5 videos); and, 5. What is Fuel Poverty? (3 videos).
All of the videos produced by Sikana are free to watch and share. They can also be downloaded directly from the video player.
The reason for writing this weblog post is not because of this webloger’s competence in psychology, which is – at best – elementary. Rather, it comes from an attempt to understand music therapy as an approach to relieving depression. It seems to help some people, but not others. Another challenge is to find out why some people find one type of music pleasurable, while something kindred does not produce this type of response, in the same person!
French psychologist Théodule-Armand Ribot (1839 – 1916) introduced the term anhedonia in 1896. Prior to this, symptoms were described in 1809 by the English physician John Haslam (1764–1844). Some describe anhedonia as a reduced ability to experience pleasure. Others refer to it as an (emotional) numbing of a reward. Some researchers suggest that anhedonia may result from the breakdown in the brain’s reward system, involving dopamine. They characterize anhedonia as an impaired ability to pursue, experience and/or learn about pleasure. About 70% of people with a diagnosis for depression show signs of anhedonia.
Many researchers distinguish between wanting and liking something. In wanting, it is the anticipation of something such as food/ sex/ music that provides a reward. In liking, it is the consumption of that reward that is pleasurable. These may have biological/ pathological considerations.
Anhedonia is common in people who are dependent on drugs, including alcohol, opioids and nicotine. While anhedonia becomes less severe over time, it is a significant predictor of relapse. People with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease show increased levels of anhedonia. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients and schizophrenics display symptoms that correlate strongly with the wanting aspects of anhedonia.
At this point, it could be helpful to distinguish between auditory agnosia, amusica, melophobia and musical anhedonia.
Auditory agnosia is inability to recognize or differentiate between sounds. It is not an ear or hearing defect, but a neurological inability to process sound meaning.
Amusia is a musical disorder that appears mainly as a defect in processing pitch but also encompasses musical memory and recognition. Two main classifications of amusia exist: acquired amusia, a result of brain damage, and congenital amusia, a music-processing deficiency present since birth. Some people with amusia, lose the ability to produce/ understand musical sounds but retain the ability to produce/ understand speech. Other forms may affect rhythm, melody, pitch as well as the emotional aspects of music.
Melophobia refers to a fear of music. Non-academic sources typically want to add irrational to the description, and then describe symptoms as increased heart rate, an increased breathing rate, higher blood pressure, increased muscle tension, trembling and excessive sweating. Also included are increased anxiety thinking about or listening to music, as well as the avoidance of music. Proposed treatments include exposure therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, anti-anxiety medications, meditation, yoga, exercise and caffeine reduction.
The reason why I take melophobia seriously, and the main reason why I dislike the term irrational being used with it, is the use of melophobia as a mechanism to control violence, in A Clockwork Orange (1962). The protagonist, Alex, is subjected to aversion therapy. He eventually becomes severely ill at the mere thought of violence, but is also prevented from enjoying classical music. The book’s author, Anthony Burgess (1917 – 1993), was a composer, as well as a novelist. Some of the depicted violence in this works can be considered a re-creation of the rape of his pregnant wife, Llewela Isherwood Jones (1920 – 1968), by four American soldiers in 1942, that resulted in the loss of their unborn child.
A film version of the book, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1928 – 1999), appeared in 1971. Another version, depicting even more violence, can be found in a fan-made version of the computer game, Grand Theft Auto 5: Online, from 2015.
While it is fifty years since I have seen the film and attempted to read the book, which remains an uncompleted task, the world seems to imitating the worst aspects of A Clockwork Orange. As I study Ukrainian on Duolingo, I am periodically reminded of Nadsat = -надцать = -teen, a fictional language used in the book and film, with many terms originating in Russian.
Fortunately, there are also positive developments. Natallie Kopp (ca. 1992 – ) provides a different, 21st century, feminine perspective on Melophobia that counterballance A Clockwork Orange. First, she informs readers that she is listening to Melophobia by Cage the Elephant [in 2013] for probably the 325th time.
Then she comments: Cage the Elephant didn’t mean a literal fear of music when naming the album Melophobia. In an MTV interview, [Matt] Shultz [(1983 – ), the group’s frontman] said he viewed the term more as denoting “a fear of creating music to project premeditated images of self, like catering to cool…rather than just trying to be an honest communicator.”
Kopp provides her own definition: a fear of looking bad musically, messing up in public, making the mistakes required for experimentation in a society where your projected image is supposed to bring grown men to their knees.
While I don’t accept the definitions provided by either Shultz or Kopp, I appreciated Kopp’s story, towards the end of her essay. She tells about volunteering at a week-long rock camp for girls and gender non-conforming youth, to lead a comedy workshop. Despite, some of the campers never playing a musical instrument before, in the course of this week they form bands, write an original song, and perform it in front of the rest of the camp in a joyous final concert.
She concludes by admitting that she experiments with sounds: some raw, some weak, some beautiful, some original, and allows her mind to fill in what is missing: accompanying instruments, perfect pitch, a sense of belonging, missed opportunities regained. The resulting music becomes louder than the words. She thinks about what it means to be loud and to be a woman, to be heard/ listened to with authentic imperfection. Her essay gives hope.
For many years, when I wanted to relax I listened to modern classical music, exemplified by Henryk Górecki’s (1933 – 2010) Symphony 3, Op. 36 = Symphony of Sorrowful Songs = Symfonia pieśni żałosnych (Polish) (1976 ). It is not as if I have only listened to classical music. I have allowed other people to impose their musical tastes on me when working, especially students in classroom situations. At home, children had a similar effect. In addition, I have sometimes chosen to listen to other varieties of music, but not normally to relax!
Yet, by constraining myself to listening to a narrow band of music for relaxation purposes, I had imprisoned myself. When I abruptly shifted to listening to other forms of music, exemplified by Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991) music video, I discovered something unexpected. This forbidden fruit, as it were, eased unwanted mental states, including anxiety and depression. Soon after, I took an interest in music anhedonia, and then other related audio challenges.
Recently, I purchased a synthesizer. It was not to become a musician, but to experiment with sounds. Like Kopp, I expect some sounds will be raw and weak. I don’t expect many to be beautiful or original. Yet, I agree with her that such an instrument allows the mind to fill in what is missing. It has also freed me from some of my expectations. I felt better able to enjoy my present situation, and to accept my fate.
I am a person who has had a tinnitus diagnosis since the age of 50. I learned to live with it fairly quickly. I also live with a person (Trish) who has experienced another hearing disability since about the age of 40: a hearing loss that prevents her from comprehending mid-range sounds, essential for understanding speech. This disability has also eliminated her previous interest in music. Until she lost her hearing she played the piano and guitar, and sang.
To help Trish cope with her hearing situation, there is no background music played in our household. When I listen to music alone, it is always through a headset. I am careful not to play any type of music loudly, because this can worsen my tinnitus.
When Trish and I watch videos together, it is an activity that could involve up to 100 hours a year. I tried to track viewing hours for the past two weeks, but the total number of hours was zero. When we do watch something it is usually a single documentary, lasting up to an hour. I can’t recall the last time we watched a movie or a television series. I do remember watching Tiger King, with my son, Alasdair, although some would also classify this series as a documentary.
Most video content contains incidental music. To watch videos we use a media centre that supplies audio content to a hearing loop that allows heading aid users to receive signals directly in their hearing aids. In addition it is connected to speakers that, optionally, allow signals to be transmitted to a headset.
Many people editing videos do not seem to realize just how disruptive music can be for a person with a hearing disability. Music often overwhelms the spoken content. Thankfully, most videos we watch are now texted. In the worst cases, we turn the sound off, and read the text.
For those obsessed with clinical details
Some researchers report that while wanting or anticipatory deficits correlate with abnormalities in hippocampal, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and prefrontal regions. while liking or consummatory deficits correlate with abnormalities in the ventral striatum and medial prefrontal cortex.
Auditory agnosia is caused by bilateral damage to the anterior superior temporal gyrus, part of the auditory pathway for sound recognition. In some patients deficit was restricted to spoken words, environmental sounds or music. There is evidence that each of the three sound types (music, environmental sounds, speech) could be recovered independently.
Determining if a person has amusia involves taking a battery of six subtests assessing pitch contour, musical scales, pitch intervals, rhythm, meter, and memory. An individual is considered amusic if they perform two standard deviations below the mean of musically-competent controls.
This weblog post was originally written: 2021-06-05 at 10:20. It was revised 2022-11-06 starting at 20:30.
This extra/ Sunday weblog post is an attempt to explain the basics of a fossil-fuel non-proliferation treaty, borrowing material from numerous places, without giving any appropriate credit. However, you might want to look at the documents here. This treaty doesn’t tell individuals what they have to do, but is focused on government action. Often, governments set emission limits, that affect consumers, at the same time that they subsidize oil producers.
This proposed treaty came to public attention during the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27/ Cop27) = the 2022 United Nations Climate Change conference, held from 2022-11-06 to 2022-11-18 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
The proposed Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty has three pillars: Non-proliferation, a fair phase-out and a just transition. Non-proliferation prevents the propagation of coal, oil and gas by ending all new exploration and production. A fair phase-out means that existing production of fossil fuels can continue, as long as they are in line with the 1.5C global climate goal. A just transition means that governments cannot promote the wants of the fossil-energy producers, but must attend to the real needs of everyone in the world.
In a resolution passed 2022-10-20, the European Parliament called on nation-states to work on developing a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, a proposed international mechanism that would complement the Paris Agreement by enabling an equitable phase-out of oil, gas and coal production, responsible for more than 80% of global emissions in the last decade.
Earlier, on 2022-09-14, the World Health Organization urged governments to endorse a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and Vanuatu became the first nation-state to call for Treaty at the UN General Assembly. This was followed by support from the Government of New Zealand and the President of Timor-Leste.
The proposed Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty references the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It would be an evidence-based international agreement to control a category of substances well-known to be harmful to human health. The health risks associated with fossil fuels are numerous.
A realistic prognosis of world energy predicts that more than twice as much coal, oil and gas will be produced by 2030 than is consistent with limiting the rise in global temperature to below 1.5C, according to the United Nations and other organizations.
The world’s oil and gas fields and coal mines contain enough carbon to push the world beyond the Paris Agreement’s temperature limits (1.5C). There must be limits imposed on fossil fuel supply and extraction; subsidies must be removed for production, dismantling unnecessary infrastructure; the rights of indigenous peoples and impacted communities must be defended; wealthy countries must lead, support and pay for the managed phase-out of fossil fuels.
A peaceful and just transition requires a clear, proactive plan that enables economic diversification, the implementation of sufficient renewable energy and other reliable, cost-effective low-carbon solutions, and to support every worker, community and country.
Burning fossil fuels presents severe threats to human and planetary health. Air pollution, from burning fossil fuels causes more than seven million premature deaths each year. It contributes to cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, and cancers. Wildfires, made increasingly intense and common by climate change, add to this toll.
The climate crisis represents a critical health threat. A warmer climate creates ideal conditions for the transmission of food and water-borne diseases, undermining decades of progress in global public health. It increases the risk of heat related illness and death. Droughts, floods, extreme weather events and sea level rise caused by climate change disrupt livelihoods, pollute water, jeopardize food security, damage infrastructure and force migration.
Extreme weather events disrupt global medical supply chains, destroy healthcare facilities, and prevent health workers from providing health care.
Climate change affects mental health negatively, increasing rates of anxiety and depression, especially in young people.
Tzeporah Berman (1969-02-05 – ) has produced a TED-talk that addresses the fossil-fuel non-proliferation treaty issues. She is a Canadian environmental activist, campaigner and writer. She is known for her role as one of the organizers of the logging blockades in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia in 1992–93. [Clayoquot Sound is on the west coast of Vancouver Island, while Denman island is off the east coast.] In 2009, Berman was appointed by Premier Gordon Campbell to serve on British Columbia’s Green Energy Task Force, charged with making recommendations on the development of renewable energy for the province. She is currently an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2020 she launched the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, of which she is the chairperson.
If individuals ask, I will suggest that they could develop a plan to abandon their own use of fossil fuels. Some elements of this plan could include something about eliminating internal combustion engines (ICE), for those who use them. Electrically powered lawnmowers, chain saws and other tools are available to replace highly polluting ICE equivalents. Electric vehicles (EV) have passed the early adapter phase, and in some places, such as Norway, are being purchased by the majority. A transition to an EV does not have to be done soon, but when people plan a transition to their next vehicle. Many sources claim that the most effective way to reduce green house emissions, is to add insulation to their housing. More advanced ways include adding solar energy (or even wind energy) and battery banks where this is feasible, and eliminating/ reducing gas for heating and cooking. The use of induction stove-tops is positive, in this respect. The use of heat pumps in space heating (and even for hot-water heaters) can be a cost-effective way of reducing emissions, depending on electricity costs in relation to other fuel costs. A personal plan, could also involve taking fewer leisure trips to exotic holiday locations.
The above title is designed to attract curiosity. Yes, it could be the name of a band, but it isn’t. Instead, it involves a proposal to take a potential recycling challenge and to turn it into an electrolyte for use in electric vehicles and integrated battery systems, equivalent to the Tesla powerwall.
Chitin is found in fungi, insects and crustaceans, such as crabs, shrimps and lobsters. It is a polysaccharide = sugar, that makes shells hard and tough. However, because large quantities of crustacean chitin is discarded as food waste, its use has been researched in a variety of applications. In biomedical engineering, for example, it is used as a wound dressing, or as an anti-inflammatory treatment.
By adding acetic acid = vinegar, and processing it chemically (deacetylation), chitin can be synthesized into a gel membrane that can be used as a battery electrolyte = the liquid/ paste/ gel inside a battery that conducts electric current, using ions = positively and negatively charged particles that migrate towards the negative (cathode) and positive (anode) terminals, respectively, allowing it to store energy. This transformation is shown in the illustration below.
When this electrolyte is combined with zinc, it can create a cheap, non-flammable and renewable battery. After 1 000 cycles, the battery is still 99.7% energy efficient. This contrasts with Li-ion batteries, where such a large number of battery cycles can significantly degrade the battery. This is a rare battery characteristic, allowing these batteries to operate at high current density.
Another advantage of a chitin based battery, is that microbial degradation in soil can break down the battery in about five months, leaving zinc behind as a recyclable product.
A University of Maryland press release, provides source information about the chemical process for anyone wanting to investigate this topic further.
Report Summary: Rechargeable aqueous Zn-metal battery is promising for grid energy storage needs, but its application is limited by issues such as Zn dendrite formation. In this work, we demonstrate a Zn-coordinated chitosan (chitosan-Zn) electrolyte for high-performance Zn-metal batteries. The chitosan-Zn electrolyte exhibits high mechanical strength, Zn2+ conductivity, and water bonding capability, which enable a desirable Zn-deposition morphology of parallel hexagonal Zn platelets. Using the chitosan-Zn electrolyte, the Zn anode shows exceptional cycling stability and rate performance, with a high Coulombic efficiency of 99.7% and >1,000 cycles at 50 mA cm−2. The full batteries show excellent high-rate performance (up to 20C, 40 mA cm−2) and long-term cycling stability (>400 cycles at 2C). Furthermore, the chitosan-Zn electrolyte is non-flammable and biodegradable, making the proposed Zn-metal battery appealing in terms of safety and sustainability, demonstrating the promise of sustainable biomaterials for green and efficient energy-storage systems.
While originally written 2022-09, publication of this post has been delayed to coincide with the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (COP27) held 2022-11-06 to 18. Politicians love such conferences, using them to receive undeserved publicity for making big promises, that they have no intention on keeping.
Because climate change is real, my hope is that people will:
Use the coming year to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
Hold their politicians accountable.
It is also hoped that some, select few people will find this battery concept so interesting that they will use some of their free time to develop an open-source battery. Should one be developed, I am interested in purchasing a 50 kWh battery system, to provide backup when the grid decides to go offline. I would also appreciate being kept informed of developments.
With this weblog post (#451) published, I have 52 posts scheduled, and most of those have been written! In addition there are 71 weblog posts, in draft format, that remain unscheduled. To ease that situation, weblog posts will be published twice a week, on Saturday and Sunday, until the end of 2022. This will add seven posts to the publication schedule. Some of these deal with the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop27), currently being held at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
From about 1963 to 1980, a Mellotron was an electro-mechanical instrument that used recorded samples of orchestral instruments stored on special tape-recorder tapes to produce a variety of sounds, using a divided keyboard, with the right half playing the tune, while the left half offered more rhythmic support.
Most musicians in the 21st century, will have no need for a Mellotron, Its major use is to recreate – with precision – some of the orchestral sounds, used by groups from the mid 1960s and onward into the 1980s. One such group is the Moody Blues, where the Mellotron can be clearly heard throughout Love and Beauty (1967).
The Mellotron is available in obsolete versions, such as the one depicted in the photo above, in smaller, lighter more modern variants or as cards to be inserted into computers (both handmade in Sweden today), or as fully digital software apps, typically offering 8 or 18 voices.
For most people, modern keyboards will offer a range of orchestral voices that is gudenuf for home consumption, or even a gig. Enthusiastic admiration of a Mellotron is a clear indication of a person living in the past.
To understand the development of the Mellotron, it helps to begin with the early evolution of drum machines.
The first drum machine was the Rhythmicon, designed by Leon Theremin (1896 – 1993) in 1932. Theoretically, it was versatile, but far too difficult to play, even for an experienced professional musician. It had been commissioned by the eccentric/ controversial composer/ pianist/ performer Henry Cowell (1897 – 1965), who quickly and quietly ignored it.
The next product was the Chamberlin Rhythmate. At some point towards the end of the 1940s Harry Chamberlin (? – 1967) started development. It took years. By 1957, a Model 100 Rhythmate, became the world’s first sampler, relying on tapes to reproduce recorded loops of drum patterns.
Chamberlin’s business model was disrupted by the 1959 Wurlitzer Sideman, that used a rotating disk to produce percussion sounds. This was a successful product, effectively eliminating the need for the Rythmate. Wurlitzer ceased production of the Sideman in 1969.
Thus, subsequent models of the Rythmate included keyboards, and extended the range of sounds produced, using a proprietary 3 track, 3/8” tape format. These enabled Harry Chamberlin to be the exclusive seller of the tapes, if only people would buy the machines!
New models regularly emerged. By the early 1960s, Chamberlin developed the Model 600 Music Master, that included two 35 note keyboards (G to F). The right-hand keyboard was used for the instrument sounds (flute, violins, etc ), while the left-hand one was used for the rhythmn accompaniments (Bossa Nova, Cha Cha Cha, Tango, etc).
In the early 1950’s, Harry Chamberlin hired former window washer Bill Fransen as a salesman. Unfortunately, while the instrument’s concept was appealing, its execution produced an unreliable machine, that was difficult to sell.
Fransen took two Chamberlins 600 Music Masters to England, looking for a manufacturer that would be able to supply 70 replay heads. In Birmingham, he engaged Bradmatic, who built the requested replay heads. After Fransen showed them the two Music Masters, they agreed to make a more reliable instrument, and to mass produce it. In 1963, this improved instrument became the Mellotron Mark 1. The designer of this instrument was Leslie Bradley (? – 1997). This electro-mechanical instrument was now much more than a drum machine, but far less than a synthesizer. It was approaching what people today refer to as a keyboard, but excessively heavy and large.
Using British funding, band leader Eric Robinson (1908 – 1974) set up Mellotronics Ltd in London, and recorded various instruments at IBC studios (International Broadcasting Company), which he owned with George Clouston, who worked for the BBC.
In 1965, the Graham Bond (1937 – 1974) Organisation was the first band/ musical group to use a Mellotron to record a single, Lease on Love, and an album, There’s a Bond Between Us.
A Mellotron was also used on Manfred Mann’s (1940 – ) single, Semi-Detached, Suburban Mr. James (1966).
The Beatles first discovered the Mellotron during a visit to IBC studios in London on 1965-08-09. John Lennon ordered a Mark II, which was delivered to him 1965-08-16. The most famous Beatles’ song using a Mellotron is Strawberry Fields for Ever (1967), where it substitutes for a flute.
In 1964, a Mark II model was produced. Mike Pinder (1941 – ) worked on quality control at Bradmatic for 18 months. Shortly after, he acquired a Mark II which became the musical foundation of The Moody Blues, a group he had just founded. Using a Mellotron, Love and Beauty (1967) became the group’s first hit. Because of his experience acquired at Bradmatic Ltd, Pinder was able to make technical improvements to his instrument. These included the replacement of accompaniment sounds on the left keyboard with additional instrument sounds, as typically provided only on the right keyboard, allowing it to have a total of 36 instruments.
The possibilities offered by the Mellotron attracted many musical groups: The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Pink Floyd and King Crimson. It was the first fully polyphonic instrument which allowed a faithful reproduction of other instruments including strings, brass, flute and vibraphone. There were other keyboard instruments available: electric organs (Hammond, Vox, Farfisa), acoustic and electric pianos (Rhodes, Wurlitzer) and monophonic synthesizers (Moog, ARP). However, these either could not offer the variety of sounds, or their learning curve was so steep, that it was not worth the effort.
In 1965, Harry Chamberlin travelled to Britain to visit Bradmatic. A financial arrangement was made with the Bradley brothers allowing them to continue manufacturing the Mellotron and to use the famous sound of strings (3 Violins), the only sound common to Mellotron and Chamberlin.
Bradmatic changed its name several times to successively become Bradmatic Productions, Mellotronics Manufacturing, Aldridge Electronics and finally Streetly Electronics. With the growing success of the Mellotron, Streetly marketed the Mellotron directly, then delegated it to Dallas Arbiter.
Because of the success of the Mellotron, the BBC asked Streetly Electronics to develop a Sound Effects Console (FX Console) Mark II version, whose technical specifications were adapted to the needs of the BBC. This involved the recording/ acquisition of 1260 sound effects to provide sound for radio and television broadcasts.
In 1968, a M300 version emerged, offering a single 52-note keyboard and eliminating amplification. Despite its scaled-down size, it was still a large and difficult instrument to transport. Some bad design decisions tarnished the model’s reputation, and only 52 copies were produced.
By 1970, a M400 became the first Mellotron that was (relatively) easy to transport. Its mechanics were simplified compared to previous models, allowing the use of interchangeable tape frames. Each tape had 3 tracks, with each frame holding a bank of 3 sounds. It was possible to order additional frames with other sounds. Many new recordings were made for the M400. It was Streetly Electronics’ biggest commercial success. Here is a video explaining how the M400 works.
From the end of the 60s, the Mellotron was used increasingly in progressive rock, by groups that include Genesis, Yes and King Crimson. It offered a polyphony, that was sometimes described as melancholic or bewitching.
In 1975, the Mark V arrived. It was, essentially, two M400s in a single box, but with the addition of a reverberation unit.
In the United States, the Mellotron was distributed from 1972 to 1976, by Dallas Arbiter, later, Dallas Music Industries (DMI). DMI’s bankruptcy resulted in Mellotronics transferred distribution rights to Sound Sales, which acquired the registered name Mellotron. This DMI bankruptcy also resulted in the closure of Mellotronics in Britain. Instruments made by Streetly Electronics, lost their right to use the Mellotron name, but used Novatron as a replacement name.
In 1981, the 4 Track is the first American Mellotron, manufactured by Sound Sales. In essence it is an M400, but is able to play 4 tracks on 1/4″ format tapes with an equalization for each track, volume and pan. This recording quality of the tapes was so poor that only five copies were made.
At the beginning of the 1980s, other, better samplers arrived on the market: notably, the Fairlight CMI, the Emulator I and the Mirage Ensoniq. Despite their technical innovations, these machines were expensive, and provide poor sound fidelity, that lasted only a few seconds. By the mid 1980s technological advances resulted in more efficient and less expensive machines, typically made in Japan by Akai and Roland.
At this point, the Mellotron is obsolete. Streetly Electronics ceases operations in 1986. Some years later, John Bradley, son of Mellotron designer, Leslie Bradley, and Martin Smith, founded Mellotron Archives UK. This becomes Streetly Electronics. It remodels, maintains and sells parts and bands/ tapes for all Mellotron models.
In 1989, David Kean purchased the bankrupt estate of Mellotron in the US and bought all remains of the associated UK companies. He resurrected the Mellotron brand. He was then joined by Markus Resch, an engineer. In 1990 they began making tapes, spare parts, and start building what would become the Mark VI Mellotron in 1999, described by its manufactures as: a newly manufactured, electronically and mechanically improved tape-replay instrument. Unfortunately, it also includes a tube pre-amp, which is a regressive measure.
About 1999, David Kean began divested himself of his interest in the Mellotron company, and moved his new project, the Audities Foundation to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Since 2001, the Mellotron company has been owned and operated by Markus Resch, in Sweden. It now produces both analog and digital instruments as well as apps under the brand Mellotron. In 2005, the Mellotron Mark VII was launched. Both the Mark VI and the Mark VII machines are still in production, although the Stockholm shop with its listening centre has closed.