Thursday, October 1, 2009


Currently at the National Archives in Kew. They have public internet stations where one can simply walk up to a computer and start using them. No red tape whatsoever.

Today I was in Kew Gardens, where among the diversity of things there I learned about red tape. The colour of this binding was dyed using a particular plant, and used to bind documents of an official nature. I found this in a interesting gallery called People and Plants, where the connections between nature and commodity can be made. It is part of their Economic Botany department.

I also discovered a book called "Fruit" published by Kew that, if it weren't for its weight, would be in my bag right now. It talks about the fruitiness of fruit, and that it is nature's amazing way of species survival. Some fruit is edible, some is not edible (by us), and some is, well, incredible.

For example, take the fruit of the 'Suicide Palm', a tree listed as one of the top 10 newly discovered species of 2008. A spectacular palm of over 18 metres high, its fruition depletes its nutrient reserves and the result is that the entire tree dies and collapses. There are only about 100 of these on Madagascar. Survival of the hopeful.

Kew is all about studying and classifying plants, now using DNA rather than plant forms and shapes; their stated aim being that if we do not know what we have, we cannot protect it. Protection often is in collaboration with the local community to which a particular plant is native. Another thing that Kew does is the Millenium Bank. For example, all native species of a plant in Victoria, Australia were burnt in the February 2009 fires, but seeds remain at the Botanic Gardens in Australia and in Kew for renewal.

Acceptance of the globalization of commodities and a movement towards species protection through molecular biology. You would be hard-pressed to find the word "colonization" in this botanic haven.

On the road to Damascus - Dimashq as it is pronounced there. Should be there Saturday around midnight.

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