Asa Kusa, Mornington Crescent, is my favourite Japanese restaurant in London.

Maybe it is the pokey nature of the interior layout, the shabby decor, the service which is often inattentive. Or maybe it is just the excellent, delicious, food.

Whatever it is, I like it.

Anyway, if you ever go there, I recommend the deep fried oysters and…well…everything else.

Sushi is seemingly healthy, although I’ve been told it damages your liver. (Further reading suggests that this seems to be a problem relevant specifically to South East Asia)

Boo hoo.

Sushi is great.

Except when it is DESTROYING THE WORLD like a big fishy Godzilla.  Make sure your Sushi is sustainable.

Bluefin tuna is particularly eco-unfriendly, and swanky Sushi chain Nobu is being boycotted by fish and Earth lovers alike because of its bluefin desecrating menu.

Crazy things people believe: 1. Young Earth

Faith.  It is like when you know something, except without any proof. Also, if there is proof that shows that what you think is wrong (like Dinosaur bones) you still don’t change your mind.  That is why faith is better than science.  It doesn’t allow for being wrong, even when it is proved to be so.angel

So, what are some of the craziest…I mean best…things that people of faith believe?

1. Creationists (mainly Christian) maintain that the Earth is less than 7,000 years old.

Science, using measurement and calculation puts the rough age of the Earth at about 4.54 billion years old (45,400,000,000).  This is based on the radiometric dating of rocks.  Zircon crystals in Australia have been dated at about 4.4 billion years old, they are the oldest known Earthly material.  Light spectrum analysis of the stars shows that they are also about the same age.

Balderdash! Cry the creationists.  The Bible is the literal word of God, so all you need to do to know how old the Earth is, is to add up all the dates.

Luckily, the Anglican Primate (not a concession to Darwin, some term for an Archbishop) James Ussher did so in the 17th Century, and found that the Earth was created at nightfall preceding Sunday October 23, 4004 BC.

In the course of his studies, he also found that Herod died in 4BC so Christ must have been born anytime between 37 BC and 4BC.

There now exists in America a Creation Museum. On their website the fact that they believe the Earth to be 6000 years old is elusive, but insinuated: ‘Biblical history is the key to understanding dinosaurs’.  It is what they, as evangelical creationists, believe.  Apparently there were Dinosaurs on Noah’s ark.

Other people who had previously come to similar approximate conclusions (the Earth being about 6000 years old) include the Astronomer Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton.

Incidentally, Newton had all sorts of far-fetched ideas, he was an avid Bible scholar and he even predicted (using the Bible as his source) that the world would end (Christ would return) in 2060 or thereabouts.  He had a passion for Alchemy, and in particular the ability to turn base lead into gold.  After his death, his body was found to be riddled with mercury, probably from his alchemical pursuits, which suggests that he may well have been suffering from mercury poisoning in his later years.

Here are some ‘Young Earth’ arguments and responses, from Tim Thompson

1000 months

I am sat in a cafe watching the spiral galaxy of milk cool into being in the black night coffee before me.

I imagine a ballerina in a music box, sparkling, swirling; a segue into a memory faded in the sun and rain.

When it has settled, the liquid in the cup takes on a donkeyish colour, dun and homely.

I taste bittersweetness with a silent tongue.

And I take my time.

I am passing time.


How much do you get?

Fewer than a 1000 months.

I am wasting time.

Letters I never sent

tiny baby hand holding adult's fingerIt is as if I am stood knee deep in a shallow sea, basking in the calm warmth, waving to the shore when the memory of love hits me like a surging wave, risen up behind me to crash down with all the might the hurtling planet can summon.

I am submerged. Sucked down into the light-flecked depths, drawn into the swirling dark.   Gasping in shock, my lungs fill with salted black sorrow.  I ache. For the air, the light. For her. Sustaining, buoyant, love.

How much I loved her.  I had never known the power of love. That is could sweep you out to sea; convey you beyond reason; beyond safety out into the expanses of the ocean.

Fear.  Is what drowns you.  To escape the clutch of the deadly current, you must be calm, you must follow the whims of its turning, swim with it, take your time.  To struggle is to tire, to drown.

Love and fear are opposites. They fight.  I wish that I had let love win. I wish I had let the current take me.  Instead, I fought against it.  Drowned.

I lost her.  I discarded her.  I drowned our love.

Now, I am cursed, like the sea, to repeat the same motions, to rest my aching head on the shore for a moment, then to be drawn back into the morass. The ever shifting morass.

Gorillas in the midst

In 1994 I was fortunate enough to see, in the mountains of Rwanda and Uganda, a family of silverback Gorillas, before they were fully acclimatised to human contact.  I would like to avoid anthropomorphism, or unwarranted sentiment, but it was a very touching experience, my impression was that they were strikingly peaceful, beautiful creatures. I found their simplicity in direct contrast to us, their complex neighbours. Human beings had recently perpetrated a horrific genocide amongst themselves in Rwanda, and we, humans, have brought that genocide to the Gorillas too.

What can you do?

The New Scientist has some sound advice


Karl Popper

When I was fresh out of university, I worked as a typesetter and proofreader. I was not very good at it because I could not quite stop myself from reading the books, when I should have been meticulously checking them for errors.

One book that was particularly distracting was ‘All life is problem solving’, by Karl Popper.  The full stops, paragraph breaks and em-rules cascaded past my attention like animals escaping a zoo as I turned the pages, transfixed.  I recently found some post it notes upon which I had scrawled this particularly inspiring passage from the book:

“I am anything but an enemy of religion. My religion is the doctrine of the splendours of the world; of the freedom and creativity of wonderful human beings; of the terror and suffering of the despairing people we can help; of the extent of good and evil that has emerged in human history and keeps emerging over and over again; of the joyful message that we can prolong people’s lives, especially those of women and children who have had the toughest life. I know nothing else. And although the scientific quest for truth is part of my religion, the magnificent scientific hypotheses are not religion – that must never be”

You see, cagey

The UCKG has been criticised as a cult, a fraudulent money grabbing scam and for having been the church where pastors claimed murdered child Victoria Climbie was possessed, rather than the victim of abuse. So what, I’m sure they do some good.

The UCKG is the acronym of the ‘Universal Church of the Kingdom of God’.

You know what, they probably do some good.  They pop up in poor communities and offer salvation in the form of evangelical religion to some of those most in need.

So what if they require you to give 10 per cent of your income to them as a ‘tithe’?

“Tithes are central to the UCKG’s doctrines. It is expected that each member give 10 per cent of his total pre-tax income to the church. This means 10 per cent of all income: not just salary, but child benefit, pension, student grants, loans, interest, everything. Even people on the dole are expected to give up 10 per cent”

Source: New Humanist

Okay, so you are poor and can ill afford to give some ropey organisation your money, but look at all the great things that happen when you do:

Bank errors are sorted, promotions obtained, jobs offered – all by the miracle of God!

So what if it is run by a Brazilian Tycoon, Edir Macedo, who was jailed for fraud.

So what if the murderers of Victoria Climbie attended the Church and pastors there claimed she was ‘possessed’:

“The eight-year-old attended the UCKG with her aunt on several occasions.

One pastor from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), in north London, said the eight-year old was “possessed” and ran down the aisle during a service, screaming: “Prayer doesn’t help”. Carl Manning told the Old Bailey that Kouao had coached ‘Anna’ (Victoria was her given name, but her killers called her Anna) to make the run.

Another pastor, Alvero Lima, admitted he thought the child was “possessed” and offered to drive the Devil out at one of the UCKG’s weekly Friday “deliverance” services, at which the church offers strong prayer to “destroy witchcraft, devil possession, bad luck, bad dreams and spiritual problems”.”

Source: BBC, Independent

So what.  I’m sure they do some good.

To do list…

In between life and death, what is to be done?

black and white photo of brazilian beach

Anyway, I have been thinking about what I want to ‘do before I die’.  And on reflection I have not done too badly so far.

All I can really think of that I would really like to do before I die is:
1) See a blue whale in the wild.
but I will put others here upon reflection.
2) Learn to play Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring in it’s entirety on the guitar – I am about a third of the way there currently.
3) Complete, submit and have a novel published, to some (even small) acclaim.
4) Love and be loved.

Without the hot air

If you get annoyed by vague ‘area the size of Wales’ statistics then ‘Without hot air’ is well worth a read.  Professor David Mackay has done the calculations and provides detailed models for how Britain could become sustainable in terms of energy production and consumption.

There is lots of useful information in the book, all of it with a practical and pragmatic perspective.

Don’t kid yourself that you can stop at switching your phone charger off and think you are doing your bit for the environment, for instance:

“All the energy saved in switching off your charger for one day
is used up in one second of car-driving.

The energy saved in switching off the charger for one year is
equal to the energy in a single hot bath.”

Read it online here