Category Archives: sustainability

Killing two birds with one stone – good ol’ fashion labour

I have been riding a bicycle everyday for about three weeks now. I hadn’t gotten exercise for a couple years and I was getting out of breathe just by climbing two flights of stairs. But now the stairs are easy and my body recovers quickly.

Modern life is the opposite of fitness. Everything is made to make things easier. And for this easiness one has to exercise instead. Is this not double the work. Should not the things we do in life be also pet of your fitness. Should it not require effort so as to help maintain your fitness.

Isn’t doing things the long way really a way to kill two birds with one stone?

It is true though I cannot always do manual labour. White collar work is simply too static that one needs to do exercise outside of the labour. Unless I can incorporate physical work into teaching (without being sued for slavery) I have no choice but to bike.

But biking is not so bad. it is definitely fun. And it is a change in scenery to my indoor existence.

Is recycling in Japan a sham?

Screenshot 2018-09-11 14.47.33For all the trouble we go through separating plastics at home for recycling, where does it all go? This video will show you what is really happening to the plastic in Japan. A far cry from this post I wrote in 2006.

 

The Natural Animal

Not too long ago we human species had still believed that by being able to think that we are greater than The Animal. By actually having the capacity to imagine a Human/Animal binary in itself had somehow made us mistakenly believe We greater than Them. Along the way, we have gradually come to realise we are but another animal and have also began to suspect that God may not exist at all.

All this is very well, of course. The Faithful find it incredulous that The Atheist believe they are crazy. But at the same time The Faithful will hold the exact same incredulous view of The Atheist. ‘Why would anyone want to believe they are godless animals’, The Faithful would ask.

I would go as far to say that not only are we Animal but that we are also Natural with full positive connotations. And I would also say that being able to imagine God, denounce Him, and to be able to hold on to a Us&Them viewpoint is completely natural. The Human Animal (or ‘Humanimal’) for being self-perceptivably so different to the other animals is really quite the improbability. Or perhaps eventually every life-system has its equivalent human species which goes through a patch of arrogance then humility to realise it is just another Natural Animal in exactly the same way we have.

Why making a more efficient car does not work

Let’s say the oil company has 100m tonnes of fuel in reserve, and at present levels that 1m cars on the roads, for example, each use 100 tonnes of fuel. The car companies make a new “eco” car which only uses 80 tonnes of fuel instead. The government replaces all the cars with these new “clean cars. Now the cars only altogether 80m tonnes of fuel.

But the oil company is not complaining. Knowing that the car companies see the opportunity to sell more cars, they wait patiently. Lowering the price point is but still making a better profit they sell 1.25m of these “eco” cars instead.

Now, we are still using 100m tonnes of fuel and the roads get more crowded also. A bit of a #wtf moment.

The human animal

There is always an anthropocentric view with being human. Yet if we take Darwin’s conclusion seriously then we are just another animal on this planet.

This being so we are not “unnatural” but truly just part of the entire animal kingdom and should be treated as such.

The way we consume resources is as natural as that of other animals. We are genetically programmed to take as much as we do. If natural selection is to work on us as it does on other animals then some kind of balance will come about.

Apparently some lobsters and eels form a symbiosis for survival. From the point of view of natural selection it would make sense that lobsters or eels who do not form this symbiosis may have a power chance of survival thus such animals being “weeded out” naturally. Perhaps just in the same way humans are weeded out by the system.

Human/Animal

The advantage of being human is that we can group things easily by convenience of language. Take the word “human” for example. The term means us the single species of animal that is contrasted with all other animals. The opposite of human is “animal”. It also denotes us as different (when we are not) from other animals by putting everything into the container of “animal”.

This is how anthropocentric we are.

We must, at all times, be careful with and be aware of the nature of language. To think that language is natural and error-free is to not understand its nature. For it is wholly artificial, reliant upon the tools, the limited mechanics, we call the “body” that is available to us.

The Image and Art

The Image is so ubiquitous today that it has numbed us, that is, until we see the unfamiliar image which we usually call Art. In this sense, it is unnecessary to worry about The Image’s overusage since this actually gives all the more Art its strength. 

spring

the period after winter when farm machinery are said to “spring back to life.

Why watching the development of Toyosu is important

Yesterday, it was reported in television again that survey of the groundwater under the yet-to-be-open Toyosu Fishmarket has found the level of the carcinogen benzene to be 100 times above safe levels.

Japan has always prided itself on the environment and cleanliness. It is a part of of its culture in the form of Shintoism. But since industrialisation it has had pollution issues come up time and again. The peak and benchmark is the Minamata Incident where mercury poisoning had caused health problems. Also the problems from the Fukushima nuclear incident from the Tohoku Earthquake which has effects beyond Japan is still with us.

So to build a fish market on top of a toxic dump seems incredible. But that is what they had done. Where the blame and responsibility lies has still to determined. But it is likely that the then the Governor of Tokyo will have to answer some questions. So far he has deflected all criticism away from himself, as a “good” politician does. 

Why I am an atheist but not against religion

As a person who looks at language for a living and have come to believe all of what we know and believe comes from a combination of experience, thought and language

Not matter where we look cultures have religion. We, as human being, like to make religion, as much as we like to make language or literature. We are different to other animals in our ability to do so in such a way. 

So I cannot be “against” religion, or language or literature. It is inherent in us to make religion, language, literature and the such. 

What I do have believe, though, is that we also have the same capacity to “see through” the need for religion, language, literature, etc. For whatever reason we have religion, language, literature, etc, we have to learn to deal with it as reasoned but critical beings in a physical universe. 

On the continuity of the world

There is reason why the world (the external reality) will not continue (for me) after I die. I do not own it, create it. All evidence points to its independence, that I am but one object within reality. So no amount of sensing it will change the reality. And neither will the non-sensation of it change its existence.

On Realism

Everyday I wake up and see the world. I see objects. My wife and children (they are ‘objects’ as well) share the same space and time, and objects with me. Those objects are independent of myself, my wife and children. My children fight over them. They do not disappear or suddenly change into something else unrecognizable. There is seemingly an inherent stability in the reality of space-object-time.

While I have no evidence to proof this except that in the nearly half-century of my life (is that time an illusion?) my perception of that reality has been stable, constant. And that the intermediary objects have held constant between myself and other sentient observers.

That alone is good enough evidence for me.

If I cannot rely on the world to be consistent (I do not mean willful consistency) I will not be able to function meaningfully in it.

What is Object-Oriented Ontology?

I have been trying to get into Speculative Realism lately. Not an easy philosophy but then again philosophy is dealing with anything but easy subjects. Nothing less then the what exists and how we know.

During this little adventure I came across a term – object-oriented ontology – that, at first, seemed illogical but made sense after careful inspection. Here is an excellent jargon-free definition of it by Ian Bogost:

Ontology is the philosophical study of existence. Object-oriented ontology (“OOO” for short) puts things at the center of this study. Its proponents contend that nothing has special status, but that everything exists equally–plumbers, cotton, bonobos, DVD players, and sandstone, for example. In contemporary thought, things are usually taken either as the aggregation of ever smaller bits (scientific naturalism) or as constructions of human behavior and society (social relativism). OOO steers a path between the two, drawing attention to things at all scales (from atoms to alpacas, bits to blinis), and pondering their nature and relations with one another as much with ourselves.

Essentially, it is a kind of trying to be objective about something by stepping into every objects’s shoes. The language is nuanced to be human center-free.

It feels like something David Suzuki would agree to (this would make sense since he is a geneticist-turned-activist). In sustainability, it seems to have something in common with the animal rights movement opting to be less anthropocentric.


(Monologue: There seems to be a move away from human-centred views and looking at the world from what I call The Other. But whether we can learn to avoid projection of The Self in performing this act. Perhaps I can call this project Willful Philosophical Out-Of-Body Re-embodiment.)

#FoodVillage100People

I am kind of disappointed that so little attention had been given to If The World Were A Food Village of 100 People over the five years since I translated it.

Firstly, it was a translation from Japanese meaning this wasn’t available in English until I had translated it. Secondly, food is an important topic that should be covered more.

The fact that not a single person liked or commented on it is depressing. And even when I scoped about it it drew little response.

I can see a couple of problems with it. Numbers are too abstract. People need concrete visuals, a kind of “Food Village for Dummies” presentation before people can understand it. Also, it is too close to the original idea and title, “If The World Were A Village Of 100 People”. Any search online will simply make it hard to stand out and find. Most people tend to put “village 100 people” for their search term. But even if it is hard to find in search it should have been picked up.

Why bother with marriage?

Do not be fooled by the title.

This video is not putting down marriage but praising it. Marriage is an important “institution” in that it commits the people in question to achieving specific goals. Goals include family and work can be achieved with greater “efficiency” than perhaps being done alone. Everybody gains.

While we might go into it with romantic ideals we might ask then what exactly is love. I do not personally believe in a idealised version of love, and neither does my adopted culture – Japan. Japan still has remnants of its past custom of arranged marriages. Actually they are not as “arranged” as people seem to think from the English transliteration of the term miai. The potential partners always has the last say on the matter. They can say no at any time. There is something practical about marriage (as it should be from a survival point of view) and it is not in the term, marriage, as such. It is about commitment. And we achieve a lot more by simply committing to something, for better or for worse.