Something smells fishy about this sushi

5 04 2010

Click frame for complete comic at Ménage á 3 (NB: comics can be NSFW).

One of the activities that has seen me diverted from blogging duties has been a Japanese language group I joined last year.

Despite Brisbane and Queensland in general being a popular destination for Japanese in Australia, the Japanese students and visitors I’ve met complain it is hard to find authentic Japanese cuisine. With sushi bars approximately every 200 meters, it may seem difficult to believe. But even I notice that many of the city’s sushi bars are actually owned an/or staffed by Koreans (complete with Korean signs, Korean pop star posters, and Korean community papers and zines on display etc.).

Korean restauranteurs posing as Japanese is not anything entirely new or restricted to just Brisbane or Australia (Ménage is set in Montreal, and here is an article with the Japanese government wagging a finger at L.A.). Why does it happen?

I can’t find anything exactly investigating the phenomenon. I don’t think it is because old war issues, because they are as likely to be with Japanese as Koreans. And I don’t think it is because people don’t like Korean food, because, at least in Brisbane there are still plenty of of Korean restaurants around. Anyone know of another suggestion? Perhaps it is just that there are some Koreans who open Japanese restaurants.


There are 6.8 billion reasons why holistic organic tofu farming won’t take off

4 08 2009

You may remember I offhandedly posted a link to a new hard-hitting piece of environmnetal investigative journalism “Food Inc” back ago. You can read a bit more about it at ERV (Her non-judgemental words: “a new movie bitching about GMOs and food production in the US”).

Unsurprisingly the US meat/livestock/poultry industries have put together a debunking website: which includes an enlightening myths & facts section.

Tampons: It’s what’s for dinner

11 05 2009

Do you really want to follow the link to the story at Weird Asia News?

Where do people come up with the idea that something like menstrual blood has magical healing properties – in what context is that even close to reality?

But this story raises another issue: is there some sort of subtextual misogyny behind the allegation that menstrual blood is unclean or a “poison[ous], destructive, or noxious substance [administered] with intent to injure”.

Menstrual taboos and “menophobia” are a common theme in many world superstitions, not just the Abrahamic tradition. Would Indra be facing similar charges if she’d been adding blood from her fingertip (maybe as “blood of a virgin”)?

Still, when it’s being added to my food, I reserve my right to say menstrual blood is gross.

Killer cornflakes, nothing to laugh at

20 09 2008

via small dead animals

Sometimes it’s unclear where the media-hype and the real dangers collide.

Serious dangers are emerging for Australia (and other parts of the world) that are well beyond what people would expect. No one was certainly planning on the Murray-Darling drying up (well no one who had any actual power to do anything about it).

A news report from earlier this year warned that arid conditions could trigger fungal outbreaks amongst food products that could lead to serious food poisoning hazards. CQU actually made the news by warning of “mass hallucinations, manic depression, gangrene, abortions, reduced fertility and painful, convulsive death”.

You might think that standard food safety standards should mandate alerts if any food source gets contaminated, right? However, these symptons aren’t caused by a single heavy dose of mycotoxin, but several small doses over an extended time period. It all adds up if you consider the amount of foodstuff you eat on a regular basis made from cereal crops (unless you’re allergic to gluten or something).

Small dead animals appears to be a right-wing climate change skeptic, and the comments certainly are full of grand ridicule of environmental health as a profession and the idea of killer cornflakes.

However I can’t help but consider the recent food poison scares emerging from China (melamine in milk) and Japan (pesticides and mycotoxins in rice/sake). Not necessarily directly caused by global warming – but definitely shows that food poisoning is a serious risk. And also consider, more fungal outbreaks will mean more reliance on (over)using chemical fungicides on crops.

Monkeys are dirty commies

20 09 2008

Not that there is anything wrong with that…

Back at NERS – Ed Yong explains implications of a study that showed capuchin monkeys showed interest in making sure that other monkeys got the same rewards as themselve, when in a social environment.

The researchers did lots of test modifications to try and rule out any source of bias in the tests.

The main test was the test monkey picking one of two tokens. One would let the test monkey receive a piece of food. The other would not only let the test monkey receive a piece of food but also another monkey would too.

Rather than being self-absorbed and just picking any old token to get itself some chow – the test monekys showed bias for picking the “pro-social” token that lets both monkeys get food. No factors appeared to significantly affect this – except hiding the other monkey from the test monkey. This sort of reinforces the social basis for the behaviour. The monkey is hardly going to try and give food to a monkey it doesn’t know is there.

Monkeys also had some sense of stranger danger too – they weren’t likely to be socially helpful to a complete stranger monkey. Showing a similar “circle” style of relationships (family>friends>others) that is used to describe human social networks.

Go read Ed’s post for further analysis on the greater impact on animal and human behavioural sciences

(yes I’m being a little lazy, I just unpacked into my new flat and am trying to offload numerous web item thingys)

Stupid Fishies

28 07 2008

Some sick and disgusting people seem happy just to prey upon ignorant marine species – lobsters can’t read maps and work out how to stay in their no-catch zone areas.

Anything that doesn’t have a backbone doesn’t deserve to be eaten. Freaks.

Anyway, in all seriousness this is pretty good news from a conservational aspect. And it does deserve a big stocker of “duh”.

I think this sort of scheme may not play so well for terrestrial species though. Not only would minimum habitat size thresholds be a bit higher, but a major factor limiting habitat size for land animals is that humans are destroying or using natural habitats. There would be no overflow space for the giant deer or koalas to move into.

Until humans start colonising the ocean floor it looks like no-catch zones may continue to work

Of course not eating fish or seafood is yet another option. I just can’t see what is so appealing about eating invertebrates – you might as well be eating worms — ewwww….

Russia banning roo meat over antibiotics

24 07 2008

The Australian: “Russia bans Aussie ‘antibiotic’ meat

Russia has imposed temporary bans on meat coming from processing plants in eight countries, including Australia, following a crackdown by its inspectors.

Three kangaroo and one beef plant are affected …

Russian federal service for veterinary surveillance, Rosselkhoznadzor, said temporary bans were imposed after it found antibiotics in meat products.

How exactly are kangaroos getting full of antibiotics? These are not factory farmed animals but generally harvested (as well as you can harvest with a rifle) wild populations.