Jul. 8th, 2009 09:34 am
blacklilly: (Crazy)
So, you can check out what I get up to at school by clicking here.

We all like the bit at the end where I do my "Mutant Enemy" grrrr arrrgh thing.

Clicking on the other links will let you see some of the people I work with too.

blacklilly: (Default)
It's a lovely sunny day here. I had planned to take myself out on my bike this afternoon, and still may do so if I can get a video loaded up soon.

45 minutes ago I was about to write something here but was distracted by the drum-banging and shine-shaking of a passing festival procession. Which inspired me to upload my video footage of the Kawasaki Fertility Festival I attended a few months ago. By "fertility festival" read enormous stone, foam and wooden cocks being paraded through the streets. Angela Carter attended one near Nagoya back in the 1970s and here's something she had to say about it:

"There is a long queue at the bus station. But they do not look like devotees; most of the potential celebrants carry several cameras and have a prim yet salacious air. They might be about to visit a strip-club. There are more foreigners in the crowd than I expected; we all look a little sheepish. Has anthropological curiosity or prurience brought us here?...At last, in the distance, the sound of weird music of bamboo pipes and drums. A breath of strangeness hushes us all. Here is comes - out of the animistic, pagan past, a relic of the days before the Japanese lost their joie de vivre. The crowds surge. Click! Click! Click!... Cheers and lewd cries. The crowd jumps up and down and climbs over itself to fire off its cameras in the direction of the Mighty Cock, as serene, radiant, triumphant, and explicit glory of varnished wood, golden brown in colour, it sails over their heads. Good heavens, it is eight feet long, nine feet long. Ten feet long?... and the ancients shift it this way and that way, so it seems to move about according to a life of its own."
"A Fertility Festival", Shaking a Leg

Later, I may be going to a 180yen bar near Shibuya to meet up with some people. My grumpy self has been telling me all morning that I shouldn't go, but a weird euphoria leapt upon me whilst at the supermarket earlier, and I became much more perky about going out. However, that perkiness is starting to dwindle, so I hope plans are made soon.

Why am I grumpy? Eternal money worries. I felt like moaning to everyone about it earlier, but I've lost the will to do so. Maybe some other time...

Hmm, interesting afternoon slumpage is overtaking me...
blacklilly: (Default)
I've been monitoring with mild amusement the current hoo-haa going on in England about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Chicken Out campaign, and Jamie Oliver's own show on the same subject. Alas, I've been unable to actually watch these shows, so my thoughts can only be based on the responses I've read to them in
The Observer and various other sources, none of which I seem able to locate at the moment (The Guardian etc).

The basic message in these campaigns is one of animal welfare. Intensively farmed animals do not have a good quality of life - they live in cramped and unhealthy conditions, which if applied to human beings would be comparable to concentration camps. Despite the assertions of intensive chicken farmers that animal welfare is of paramount importance, the picture of the intensive farming industry presented by the media is not good. I don't doubt that there are intensive farmers who do care for their livestock, however, I cannot condone the conditions in which they live. One of the reasons I became vegetarian 14 years ago was in part caused by witnessing the trafficking of animals to slaughter, and the realisation that the meat on my plate was in fact an animal. Perhaps one of the reasons this issue has caused such a fuss is that it is calling for people to make the conscious connection in their heads that the clean, neat packaged meat bought in the supermarket actually comes from a sentient being.

However, somewhere in this debate the message has become lost. In a article on MSN talking about HFW, the headline made more explicit his Etonian education than the focus of his campaign. Can a posh-talking "foodie" who lives in the idyllic surrounds on Dorset convince us normal people to pay more for our chicken? And this really seems to be what people are most upset about. Whilst Jamie Oliver's "School Dinners" campaign was in motion, no one brandished his upbringing or education as a weapon against him. In fact, his lovable "Mockney"-rogue accent and attitude seemed to work in his favour. What people (or at least the media) dislike is being told what to do by someone they consider to be "posh"- the issue is not about the chickens, it's about class prejudice.

Which brings us to the issue of money. Posh people have money, the plebs (allegedly) don't, therefore the demand for a chicken at £2.99 is justified; HFW was presented with just such an argument on his show. I wouldn't know from personal experience, but I can make my own assumptions that a £2.99 chicken is probably equal in taste to rat burger (and we wonder where these urban legends come from). No wonder then that cheap chicken is nuked in grease and sold as gut-bustingly unhealthy fast-food, any other method of cooking might reveal the truly woeful nature of its meat. The argument that a £6 bird is better than a £2.99 one is unarguable in the taste department, but the need for cheap meat is harder to attack. The poverty gap in England is ever-increasing and people do need to eat. But, do they need to eat chicken? Some have suggested that poorer people should go vegetarian. Whilst I am one of those filthy, funny vegetarian fusspots most people love to despise, I see no sense in having to become vegetarian because you can't afford to be otherwise. Being vegetarian is undeniably cheaper than being a carnivore, and it is possible to get all of your nutritional requirements from a well-balanced vegetarian diet. However, isn't being vegetarian somehow associated with a certain class of people in England? You know, the pot-smoking-flare-wearing-pseudo-hippie student types who by default of their university education are "middle-class". There's a stereotype which still persists about us lentil-munchers, and it's not just concerned with the smell of our farts.

In Japan I can usually eat for a week on about £15, and vegetables here are not cheap. Adding meat to my diet would significantly increase the weekly expenditure, so I can appreciate the money argument. However, there are ways to stretch food, not least one of them being just to cut down on the sheer amount of food people eat at one sitting. HFW does some interesting costing on meals in this video:

The comment from the guy at the end neatly points us in the direction of another issue involved in this argument. If vegetarian's are considered fussy, then they have nothing on the modern attitude towards food and cooking. This (podgy-faced, weasel voiced) guinea-pig of HFW's states that cooking is a stone-aged practice. I fail to see what is so very neolithic about making chicken-stock from chicken-bones and veg. I guess he's never considered where the box of stale Oxo cubes in his kitchen cupboard comes from (though perhaps we shouldn't go there). There has been a cooking revolution of sorts in England over the past few years, and I highly commend the various chefs who have championed the need to get people cooking. Alas, it appears to be against tight competition as sales of "ready-meals" continue to increase, and a seeming backlash against "foodies", whose sin it seems is to care about and enjoy their food rather than mindlessly fork a load of microwaved toss down their gullets.

I could go on and on. The other issues brought into connection with the chicken debate have included global warming and population control but there lies at least another thousand blithering words. My concern is that as people begin to associate everything with global warming that not only will the individual causes suffer, but that we will continue to be bombarded with warnings until there is nothing left but a sense of ennui and powerlessness towards an issue which suffered a similar fate about 16 years ago.

The chicken debate is fundamentally about chickens - not class, or education, or the welfare system, or anything else. We need to maintain a sense of perspective on all this. As a famed nation of animal lovers it seems about time we stopped condoning the cruel treatment of animals whose very lives are in service of our own.

Oh, and to lighten the mood after my little rant, here's Charlie Brooker on Jamie Oliver:

blacklilly: (Default)
Yesterday happened to be the "Open Mountain Celebration Festival" (that's what the kanji allegedly said) at Osu Kannon in Nagoya, and what better way to celebrate it than with naked dancers covered in gold paint entertaining everyone on the temple steps. Here's my very low quality mobile phone footage, which does not justice to it at all. I edited 11 clips together and put them to New Order's "Confusion" remix.

blacklilly: (Default)
This has made my morning.

Play the Will Ferrell video and chuckle.


Jan. 26th, 2007 02:33 am
blacklilly: (Default)
I'm living in the centre of the Cthulhu-verse way over here in Japan. Japanese scientists caught the tentacle of a giant squid (plus some photos) a few years ago, and now they get footage of a frilled shark, one of those creatures I wouldn't want to meet on a dark night down in the depths. Check out the gills, they're unsettling me. The interesting creatures to come out of the literal woodwork in summer here should also be quite interesting (if frightening) to view.

In another video I was sent by Taqua: you've got to wonder just how anyone could let these people out on the streets:. See here. No offence to my American friends. As thinking people, I'm sure you're as amused and disheartened by this as I am.

My trip to Tokyo was quite useful and I felt that my time hadn't been wasted. However, I left with a bad taste in my mouth when my regional manager told me I have to take another class of three-year old kids. Goddamit, do they want a massacre?


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