Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bluefin Tuna and the Japanese Soul


Recently, someone wrote a guest editorial for the Japan Times about the eventual Pacific bluefin tuna collapse and extinction.

Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but if you read between the lines, the point was that since Japanese politicians don’t want to upset their fisherman base, they can’t impose catch restrictions.

Also, Japan is an island.

This used to make me laugh because there are many island countries that don’t resort to this childish, over-simplified exceptionalism.

And it’s not. It’s a bloody archipelago (pronounced ‘goon-toe’ in Japanese).

Now when I hear that defence, I think of Aldus Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. In the book, the entire world has human hatcheries that produce different classes or castes of humans. Their embryos are chemically altered to develop weaker or stronger. Their mental states are altered with audio phrases repeated millions of times throughout their development, hypnotizing them, destined for them to repeat ad nauseum once they become able.

As I contributed online, this national policy failure is because Japanese politicians don’t have the stomach to implement proper environmental policies. It happened before in 1992 in Canada. Scientists warned them for years before, but there was a lack of imagination as to the consequences of overfishing.

Perhaps when tuna starts disappearing from sushi-go-round restaurants in Japan, people will take notice and demand that their environment, and therefore their culture, be protected.


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Policy is not enough. Plant seeds!

The CAN-JapanNetwork (the acronym is for ‘Climate Action Network’ and has no relationship to Canada, even though I want it to) just sent out an email with press releases from fifteen of Japan’s finest NPOs. The topic was the American withdrawl from the Paris Agreement and how many members got together to protest this backwards decision. The general tone from all of the groups showed how this move would certainly not deter the valiant volunteers from moving ahead, but how they have in fact been energized to band together and continue the education, outreach, and policy-building that the other 145 countries support.

Lobbying is important, especially when you’re doing in on behalf of your children and not your ‘shareholders’. Engaging with lawmakers to see how benficial this forward direction is for the environment and the economy is valuable work. I support 100% anyone who has the luxury of time to read and write reports and get meetings with people ‘on the hill’ (or whatever the slang term is in Tokyo for the Diet).

In the meantime, as those wheels of law grind slowly, the daily activity of tending a garden is the simplest, most basic resistance action you can do.

I’m in the process of researching what to plant when I get back from Canada in late summer. The seasons work slightly differently in Tokyo than they do in Edmonton, with pros and cons, but my main opponent is land space. I have none. Everything has to be done in planters, so I’m limited to what I can grow. But make no mistake. I will grow food.

I’ve always felt that we have to be active in the home, in the community, at work, and in local and national government where policy is being decided. So before you don that (pants) suit and tie, make sure to get your hands dirty in the soil.

(Photo c/o flickr via Mike Leiberman)

Backyard Vegetable Garden in Brooklyn. August 9, 2009


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A troll, lost in the fog


As I was carrying around a samurai sword today, I had a thought.

I looked cool. I looked dangerous. I felt strong. If you displeased me, I would chop off your head.

It wasn’t actually a real sword, but a prop. It was easily the best example to show my students how they can transform you into the character you needed to act in the skits they were writing.

As I went from office to classroom, I passed several teachers. Some were just too tired to notice, some smiled. But one teacher in particular probably went right to the nearest phone to call the police. I don’t think he was the drama teacher.

I walked with my head held high, imagining the blunt blade as actually quite dangerous. I prided myself on finding it and once again believed myself to be a pretty darn good teacher. Modeling a speech or character or way method of doing something is important. It shows your students the high standard you expect from them, and you get to have a little bit of fun in the flow.

But anyway, getting back to my thought.

I imaged that you could visualize one’s intellect as a sword. And if you could, would what shape would it take? Extrapolating from that, you could imagine any object, since we all know that people come in all kinds of intellect. It’s not just polar opposite of smart and not smart, but there’s street smart, math smart, music smart. Ask my friends and they’ll tell you that the one smart I’m particularly lacking is a sense of direction. I actually get lost faster with google maps.

But if you stuck (pardon the pun) to just the sword analogy, you could visualize how sharp your intellect was. Chris Hedges, Jon Stewart, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson come to mind as some of the sharpest blades I know. Like a classic cartoon, you could drop a hair vertically on any of those blades and it would smoothly split in two and slowly drift to the floor.

Let’s play this game with President Trump.

What object can you imagine his intellect to be? For some followers-on, it is a deadly blade, impossible to blunt, forged in some old master’s workshop kiln deep in the mountains of Japan.

For others, including those in the media, journalists, arts, finance, education, Muslims, gays, women, people who believe water is life, and most people that breathe air, they would say the opposite. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer. A butter knife. A plastic butter knife. An intellect of sporkian proportions.

Since that guilty pleasure is too easy, let’s image a different object.

His incessant distractions and fabrications show up on line, and that qualifies him to be a specific member of the online community. What is the word for someone who is provocative without being productive, for someone that blindly spits vitriol in all caps and is strangely silent when the hammer of truth comes smashing down?

Due to Trump’s inexperience, he honestly does not or has not been able to prove that he knows what path he is putting America on. It is as if he is lost in a fog, without the power of sight, hindsight, foresight, and according to Samantha Bee, eyesight (that’s not true – she merely thinks he can’t read.)

It does not instill confidence having this image in my mind, yet there is no evidence of a more suitable. Jon Oliver has been brilliant at throwing them out, though. My favorite one is of a bag filled with cheeseburgers and Confederate flag belt buckles.

So there you go.

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Health check – don’t drink sugar

Basically a bookmark for myself to stop drinking sugar and stay away from bread. Dammint, I love bread.

“The major hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease—neurofibrillary tangles, amyloid plaques, and brain cell atrophy—can all be explained by insulin resistance. A staggering 80% of people with Alzheimer’s Disease have insulin resistance or full-blown type 2 diabetes. The connection between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s Disease is now so firmly established that scientists have started referring to Alzheimer’s Disease as “Type 3 Diabetes.”

Also, there’s an excellent infographic.



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Cast Iron Pan Love

I finally bought a cast-iron frying pan. Of course, the first thing I did was slightly burn a couple handfuls of split brussel sprouts. Totally wonderful. Like candy.


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EM bokashi composting

So I pulled the trigger and went for it!

Now I’m figuring out what I went for.

That was kinda the philosophy anyway – to motivate myself. Jump right in and figure things out on the fly, otherwise I’d still be sitting on the fence.

So I rolled up into Shimaho, a DIY centre near Nakano station, Tokyo. What a paradise! I could go on and on and the power washers, the ten litre bottles of everything you need to clean your house, the smell of fresh-cut wood. I think I even heard a bucket of paint being mixed.

In the gardening section was the EM composter and stand. Exhibit A:



I would’ve walked out with just that except that the guy also pointed to a few other items nearby. Exhibit B appears to be a fermentation excelorator, sold on Amazon:


And back:


This other stuff speeds up leaf decomposition:


and back:


Maybe insecticide, but not sure:


Hocky puck deodorant:


And the actually important stuff when running an anaerobic, air-tight system like this – the bag of EM – effective microorganisms:


and back:


I’ve been dumping coffee grounds, gobo and carrot peels, egg shells, and staying away from large amounts of oil and stuff already going moldy, as that will start to compete with the good mold that will soon form.

As liquid builds up, turn the spigot and dilute up to 1oo times (!) to spray on your plants.

As I have no plants, I’m going to give away the nectar and the compost to anyone who’ll take it.


In the next part, I’ll post the (Japanese and English translation of the) manual for the bucket.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Yugen (幽玄)

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Japanese Aesthetics.

Yugen in my computer’s dictionary is

unfathomable profundity.



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Antarctica in trouble

A Delaware-Sized Chunk Of Ice May Soon Detach From Antarctic Shelf

A crack in the Larsen C ice shelf grew nearly 14 miles since March.


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Put a price on carbon

This video from the Climate Reality Project explains the concept of putting a price on carbon.

“Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”


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My Summer Homework is Kanji

I just wanna be literate, and I’ve been going at it the wrong way for many years. Baring a private, daily Japanese lesson (which I’d love to have) I have to study on my own.

Finally I’ve found a website that has the stroke orders for the kanji I need to study. Thank you beautiful people at!

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