Wednesday 30 December 2015

Veganism: Compassion, Contempt and Loathing.

What you see in this photograph is a truly exhausted Eisel Mazard, in equal parts withered and withering.  And I get back on the airplane tomorrow, waking up at 5:00 AM to do so.

On Youtube:

Sunday 27 December 2015

Crime and Punishment in Japan [日本で罪と罰]

The Japanese government uses torture against its own citizens, as a routine part of its criminal justice system. Discuss.

Link to the Youtube video:

Saturday 26 December 2015

Friday 18 December 2015

Buddhist Meditation, Pseudoscience & Sam Harris

You may or may not have noticed that "professional skeptic" Sam Harris has turned his attention toward Buddhism, but --oddly-- his response to it is not skeptical at all.  Instead, he's also in the long tradition of scientistic thinkers who remain balefully ignorant of canonical Buddhism (or even of village Buddhist praxis) who is eager to tie together a knot of "cognitive" claims, and call it modern ("secular") meditation.

Another product of my prolific "jet-lagged in Göttingen" period (recorded at about 4:30 AM, local time), on Youtube:

Political Action, Guanxi & Greek Philosophy

This one is not about the meaning of life, but about friendship as the smallest unit of social organization, and as crucially important to political action of any kind.  On Youtube:

Thursday 17 December 2015

"Fake Vegans", the Conflict with Reducetarians

Why do vegans hate those who eat less meat, rather than none at all?  While guys like Tobias Leenaert try to take a more conciliatory approach, there are some pretty clear reasons as why the conflict continues.  On Youtube:

Wednesday 16 December 2015

The German Diet (Vegan)

There are not many vegans in Göttingen, and I find it interesting that the only vegan restaurant here uses the English language on its signs, and identifies itself with a (broadly western) set of human-rights ideals; it would be easy to imagine some other world in which veganism (in Europe) was packaged in terms of Chinese cultural ideals, or some Prakritic tradition from India.

However, in terms of what is available at the grocery-store, the situation is better for vegans than almost anywhere in the U.S. and Canada.  I suspect this is, partly, just because the market for the lactose-intolerant is so well-established here (many of the soy products are for them more than they are for "us", as vegans).  The other aspect is simply that the Germans care about fruit and vegetables year round (what's available here, in winter, is better than what I could get when I was living in France).

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Theravada Buddhism, Sam Harris & Skepticism

A monologue covering controversial issues that --frankly-- I think many academics wish they could discuss freely (but they can't, so they won't: there's a pall of silence precisely where critical attention is most urgently needed).  On Youtube:

Thursday 3 December 2015

Nature vs. Culture vs. Nutrition (on Youtube)

Digressions include the meaning of life, disguised as a complaint about contemporary anthropology:

Saturday 21 November 2015

The Death of the Buddha, Textual Evidence, etc.

A youtube discussion in part adapting and responding to my "old" essay, Dissent from the Top: Reading Ancient Buddhist Texts as Historical Evidence:

Sunday 15 November 2015

Japan = Vegan Hell? (On Youtube)

Is Japan "vegan hell?"  I think I managed to translate this as, "ビーガンにとって日本は地獄ですか?"  However, the video itself is entirely in English.  On Youtube:

The statue shown in the illustration, above, is actually from the shrine to Japan's slaughtered cows, and to the first cow imported to the country.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

A Rare Example of Ojibwe as a Living Language

From Waadookodaading Ojibwe Immersion Charter School:

This is exactly what we've failed to create in Canada --at any level of education.  Of course, I'd be delighted if/when I find any examples to the contrary, but I now have a great deal of experience with getting e-mails back from language programs for Ojibwe and Cree (here in Canada) writing back to let me know that they don't really offer the sort of courses that they seem to (in hype posted to the internet).

Monday 9 November 2015

How (and Why) I Became Vegan

Knowing the right thing to do, and then doing it: the first is a matter of information, the second is a matter of motivation.  On Youtube, "my vegan story":

Saturday 7 November 2015

Cenk Uygur is Not Yet Vegan (But…)

Where does milk come from?  Where does it really, really come from?  In this generation, most of us didn't know until fairly late in life… apparently Cenk Uygur is just learning now, at age 45.

On Youtube:

Cattle Rancher's Perspective on Vegan & Animal Rights News

On Youtube:

Thursday 5 November 2015

Being Offended: A Political Behavior.

On Youtube:

I let my stubble grow for a few days, so that I'd look appropriately rough for my passport photos.  No joke: you want your identity photos to resemble what you're (probably) going to look like after 24+ hours in transit.

Saturday 31 October 2015

Don't Move to Thailand

Vacation and vocation: two different things.

In 2015–2016, Thailand is a military dictatorship. And you should care about that. And if you don't care, then, really, you shouldn't move to Thailand. Discuss.

On Youtube:

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Are Dairy Prices Fixed by A Conspiracy? Well… Sort Of.

No matter where you're living in the world, you may have heard that the dairy industry is supported by the government, and the prices are artificially low… or artificially high… or you may have heard both. What's going on here? Is there a government conspiracy to make pizza cheaper? Well… sort of.

On Youtube:

Monday 26 October 2015

Veganism as Cultural Imperialism, Neocolonialism, etc.

Veganism as Cultural Imperialism. Another question that's not going to go away, but will be asked again and again.

Sunday 25 October 2015

On the Importance of Not Learning Sanskrit

Dear Mr Mazard,

thanks for your interest in our Master Program in Buddhist Studies which has several tracks, among them tracks for Japanese and Indian Buddhism.

 As our Program has a strong philological orientation you will need to prove solid language skills in either Japanese or Sanskrit. Generally our Master students have gone through 4 years of intensive language training in their Bachelor.

If you you are interested in the Master Program in more detail, please let me know about your work done so far in Sanskrit or, in case you are interested in the track "Japan", contact my colleague …

 Best wishes from _____,


Prof. _____,

I have had something like 10 years of experience working on Pali (and my work in that field is well-known, partly because I produced educational materials as a by-product of my own research, and these materials are now used by other students of Pali).  However, I have zero experience
with Sanskrit, and I actively intend to never study Sanskrit.  So, if the Indian side of your program works entirely on Sanskrit (not on Pali), then it is of no interest to me.

[The rest of the correspondence follows below.]

Thursday 22 October 2015

The Vegan Restaurants of Victoria, B.C. (Youtube)

Being vegan in Victoria, B.C., Canada.  Easier than France, harder than Taiwan, TBH.

This might be the first and last time that I have an image of a plate of food on my Youtube channel.  :-/


Monday 5 October 2015

Activism & Outcomes (Talking about Veganism on Youtube)

Activism & Outcomes: Unnatural Vegan vs. DxE (Direct Action Everywhere), link:

(Note that there are links to related sources listed below the video.)

Friday 11 September 2015

Veganism vs. Human Rights (Youtube Video)

Veganism vs. Human Rights (the Politics of Putting Humanitarianism "First").  This includes anecdotes "from the field", concerning my own supposedly-humanitarian work in Laos, along with the broader theoretical point (about being a vegan in a world at war, etc.).


Saturday 5 September 2015

Learning Japanese with 人生ゲーム, the Jinsei Game.

The Japanese board-game 人生ゲーム has given rise to many, many adaptations.  Some of them can be used for level 1 language-practice (some with more Kanji than others, etc.).  All of them make use of exactly the sort of vocabulary that beginners need to learn (and practice), i.e., basic terms related to work, study, life, etc. etc.

Click below to see marriage, Japanese style, according to "The Game of Life".

Thursday 3 September 2015

Economics in 2015, a Recovery for Some

Economics in 2015: Recovery vs. "There will be no recovery!" (Taiwan, Japan, Canada, U.S. & Europe), on Youtube:

Friday 28 August 2015

What Happens When the Permafrost Melts? (Global Warming in the Present Tense)

This is an image of a "sinkhole" apparently created by (1) collapsing permafrost, and (2) escaping methane gas (but, as the narrator notes, this is a new area of scientific research, and how the sinkholes are formed by rising temperatures is not entirely understood).  Methane is a crucially important variable for understanding arctic climate-change, and you can find various instructive videos on this topic created by members of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG).

Saturday 22 August 2015

Scenes from Urban Canada (5 min.)

[景色] My Life in Canada: UVic Campus [カナダの都市部]
Not a masterpiece of film-making (nor of social commentary), but this does show the scenery here on campus, partly for the benefit of some of my friends and colleagues far away, who may have trouble imagining what this part of Canada looks like:

Sunday 16 August 2015

Ravens of Victoria: the Bored and the Beautiful

Life in Victoria, B.C., proceeds at a slow pace, even for the ravens.  Some of them cope with their boredom by tormenting the humans who pass them by.  This year, for a few months, there was one raven who perched in the rafters of the Market Square (a public quadrangle, downtown).  He/she passed the time by swooping down to pass his/her claws through the hair of people walking up a particular (outdoor) staircase.

Thursday 13 August 2015

Taiwan Discovers Japan, Not Vice-Versa

While I was in Taiwan, it did seem to me that the younger generation had taken an increasing interest in the islands next-door, with English being (absurdly) the lingua franca linking the two cultures (note that I lived in Taiwan at several different odd junctures of my life, for some number of months on each occasion, so I have only a fragmented sense of how the culture has changed, but still, this seemed new and noteworthy; during my first period of living in Taipei, many years ago, Japan seemed distant and rarely-thought-of).  The change shows up in the statistics as a significant leap in the numbers of tourists going from Taiwan to Japan (cf. the second chart, below: the growth is not in business-travelers); however, the feeling is not mutual.  Japanese interest in Taiwan has increased, but only modestly, during the same period of time.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

In Japan, Everyone is Guilty, Nobody is Innocent (99.9%?)

On Youtube (under 8 minutes long):

China's Economic Crisis (2015), NOT About Sovereign Debt, Actually

On Youtube:

China has some remarkable economic problems, but rapidly rising public spending isn't their root cause. This video shows how a single statistic in isolation can be very misleading, and how some opinion-makers may be trying to mislead us with factoids of this kind.

Oddly, some of my work was translated into Chinese without my permission

Although I've had some of my work translated into Chinese intentionally, this is the first time I've noticed that someone translated my work into Chinese without asking for my permission (and without even telling me that they were doing it).

Monday 27 July 2015

Veganism: Neither Anti-Capitalist Nor "A Privilege"

30 minutes on Youtube (competing with Seinfeld in both duration and perspicacity):

Veganism as Digital Activism: Moving Beyond Bikinis & Bicycles.

On Youtube:

"We've got a lot of talented people talking about veganism on Youtube right now. We can talk about something a lot more meaningful than bikinis and bicycles."

Vegans, Leaders and Followers

On Youtube:

Leadership is created by followership: vegans tends to select certain types of charismatic leaders, in the absence of any institutional structure for their ecological and ethical interests (that could have, hypothetically, been shaped by the Green Party, Greenpeace or other institutions, that have thus far failed to take on any such leadership role). This video raises broad questions of who our leaders are (how and why we select them), examining the type of leadership that results from internet-centered activism in the 21st century.

Thailand: the Future of Veganism is Not Bikini Models and Bicycles


What is the future of Veganism? What is the new vegan social movement emerging from Northern Thailand? What does the recent scandal have to tell us (or what does it lead us to ask ourselves) about these larger issues?

Why is there a town called Mohawk in Arizona?

The short answer is, "Origin not known" (the last three words in the image below); we're left to imagine that some very ignorant colonists mistook the native people there for Mohawks.

This quotation is captured from a book by Will Croft Barnes (1858-1937), Arizona Place-Names.

There is also an Ontario in California, for very different reasons.