Category Archives: Culture

Culture for the cultured and uncultured alike.

Rule Five Love Hotel Friday

Note:  Another short stint in Japan beckons, beginning early next month.  Regular readers know how Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. enjoy our forays in to the Land of the Rising Sun, so look for some photos and travel commentary from those environs very soon.

With that said, and in spite of the tendency of young Japanese to eschew sexual relationships, the love hotel industry in Japan is still robust.  Excerpt:

Japan’s population is shrinking.

Deaths now outpace births, marriage is plummeting, and young people aren’t having sex. The media are calling it sekkusu shinai shokogun, or “celibacy syndrome”—an alarming trend that has the Japanese government funneling tax dollars into speed dating and matchmaking services over fears of an impending economic collapse.

But in a neon-lit pocket of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, BDSM equipment, mirrored ceilings, vibrating beds, and condom vending machines paint a different reality. Welcome to Love Hotel Hill, where Japan’s sex industry is flourishing.

Clandestine Encounters

True to their moniker, pay-by-the-hour love hotels cater to millions of Japanese couples every year, and increasingly, tourists. There are more than 30,000 love hotels in the country, and hundreds in Tokyo alone—a multibillion-dollar business that accounts for a quarter of the sex industry.

With increasing life expectancies, the rising age of marriage, and high population density, multigenerational households are ubiquitous. When married couples live in close quarters with elderly parents and children, love hotels offer a practical alternative to thin-walled Japanese homes where privacy is scarce.

Oddly, this isn’t a sign of any renewed fecundity:

Japan’s love hotel industry may be prospering, but the country is experiencing a paradoxical decline in marriage, childbirth, and sex.

More than 40 percent of men and women aged 18-34 in Japan have never had sex, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. If the current trend continues, it is projected that by 2060 Japan’s population will have shrunk by 30 percent—an impending economic disaster.

But in the midst of a stagnant economy, staying single has become an attractive choice.

Now, this next stint will have us in the Tokyo region for 2-3 weeks, where a visit to the Shibuya district is not only possible but likely.  Since our first visit to that country in 2009, I have (unsuccessfully) tried to persuade my own dear Mrs. Animal to undertake a visit to a love hotel, of course strictly in the name of research; you see, True Believers, how there are no lengths to which I will not go to bring you the best reporting on other cultures and the wonders to be found in exotic lands.

However, Mrs. Animal has been and remains of a conservative bent in such matters, and prefers to eschew any role in conducting such research.  Oh well.

Anyway:  I do love Japan and the Japanese people’s demographic trends has been a cause for concern.  As scribe Mark Steyn points out, the future belongs to those who show up for it, and the Japanese seem to have opted out.  What’s more, Japan has evidently decided to die Japanese.  While Europe has become a hotbed of Islamic activism thanks to their unchecked immigration policies – in no small part to attract younger workers to prop up their generous social welfare programs – Japan remains a difficult country to establish yourself in on a long-term basis.

But the love hotel industry gives one hope.  Maybe young Japanese people will rediscover the joys of sex.

Rule Five Rockin’ Friday

This Friday I thought I’d do something different.  Enough serious stuff has gone down lately that I thought I’d do a culture post, and by “culture” I mean “shit I’m familiar with.”  So here, interspersed with the usual Friday Rule Five totty, are a list of twenty of my favorite classic rock songs, with a few of my comments.  Note that this isn’t necessarily the top twenty, just twenty that would be on any of my classic rock playlists.  Comments and additions are welcome.

  1. Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Meat Loaf

A concert staple by the big guy, generally featuring Richard Thomas’s (John-Boy Walton) wife (!) in the co-starring role.  Every kid that went to high school in the Seventies knows well the meanings in this song.

2. Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin

Maybe the greatest rock & roll song ever created, at least from the standpoint of the influence it had on the music scene.  Every garage band in the country has covered Stairway at some point.  I say this even though it’s not my favorite Led Zep tune; I like Kashmir, The Immigrant Song and Dazed and Confused more.

3. Hotel California, Eagles

The Eagles were a big deal back in the day, and while they did some songs that I liked better in some ways (See Stairway, above) like the haunting Desperado, this is the song that they are remembered for.

4.  Tangled Up in Blue, Bob Dylan

All I can say about this is that it’s the best song written and performed by America’s Songwriter.

5.  Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

Seriously, if you’re over 40 you can’t listen to this song and not picture the famous Wayne’s World scene.  Still, the best song by a ground-breaking band – and I would also recommend Weird Al Yankovic’s cover of it, Bohemian Polka, which is priceless.

6.  Carry On Wayward Son, Kansas

A rare one, this; Kansas had a few good tunes but were never on the level of a Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith.  But Carry On is a masterwork, a huge, rocking epic tune.

7.  Dream On, Aerosmith

I was fortunate enough to see this one performed live once, as I remember in 1979.  Aerosmith’s music runs the gamut from fun to thoughtful to hardcore, but Dream On was probably their masterwork.

8.  American Pie, Don McLean

This may well be the greatest ode to American rock music ever written.  As with Stairway, almost every garage band in the Seventies would cover this song, and why not?  It’s got a good tune, shades of meaning that no two people interpret the same way; it’s deep blue Americana.

9.  Frankenstein, Edgar Winter

Edgar Winter, a musical prodigy, played several instruments; on this massive instrumental tune alone the world’s greatest albino rocker played synthesizer, electric piano, saxophone and timbales.  The synthesizer portion of this song was an odd one even for the Seventies; my friends and I referred to it as “electric pigs.”

10.  Dreams I’ll Never See, Molly Hatchet

This is actually a cover of an Allman Brothers tune, but it’s on the list of covers done better than the originals.  Molly Hatchet was one of the best southern rock bands, and Dreams was one of their best releases.

11.  YYZ, Rush

Some of the best percussion work ever done is found in this song, even more so in live cuts than in the studio single.  Neal Peart stands alone.

12.  Edge of Seventeen, Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks isn’t know for slam-bam rock & roll, but in her first solo album, she proved she could keep up with anyone in the genre.  Edge was the tune that proved she had some rock & roll chops, after all the fluff and flutter of Fleetwood Mac.

13.  Barracuda, Heart

Ann and Nancy Wilson probably broke a few glass ceilings while Her Imperial Majesty was still taking cattle-futures payoffs in Arkansas.  I had a hard time choosing one of their tunes for the list, but finally settled on the hard-hitting Barracuda as the best showcase for their talents.

14.  Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynyrd

While it’s Skynyrd’s best tune, in the Seventies it was probably the single most-requested song at every wedding reception, anywhere.

15.  Stage Fright, The Band

Probably the best song by one of the best bands ever; Robbie Danko’s great vocals led the way for a tune that was all about finding joy in performing.

16.  We’re an American Band, Grand Funk Railroad

What more could you ask for in an essentially American rock & roll song?

17.  I Love Rock & Roll, Joan Jett

Along with Lita Ford in The Runaways, Joan Jett pioneered the genre of bad-girl rock.  While Lita sort of faded after The Runaways, Joan went on to carry the genre by herself for a while, and I Love Rock & Roll was her paen to an era.

18.  Funk #49, James Gang

Beginning with a signature guitar riff, Funk goes on to lay down some not-too-impressive lyrics supported by some great guitar work by Ronnie Silverman.  It’s a fun song that had us reaching to turn the car stereo’s volume dial up back in the day.

19.  You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Bachman-Turner Overdrive

While this song probably did not inspire a famous comment by President Reagan, it did have BTO’s signature sound, and lyrics that were good fun.

20.  Bang a Gong (Get It On), T. Rex

Nothing deep or thoughtful about this one; it’s just good fun.  A good solid rock & roll song with decent guitar work, decent vocals, and a theme that appeals to those very youths upon which youth is wasted – like yr. obdt. at seventeen.

Honorable mentions (I knew I’d never be able to hold it at 20):

1.  Tush, ZZTop.

This song summed up the weekend aspirations of every teenage boy in the Seventies, and got no small amount of play for that reason.  It’s also a great representative piece from an iconic Texas band in their heyday.

2.   Rock and Roll All Nite, Kiss

Honestly I wasn’t a big fan of Kiss when they first came on the music scene.  I thought that rather than being iconic, their signature makeup just detracted from the music, and I’ve always been one to favor good tunes over fancy showmanship.  Still, this is a good solid tune.

3.  Peaches en Regalia, Frank Zappa

Zappa was several kinds of musical genius; he wrote and conducted freakin’ symphonies, for crying out loud.  But he was also one of the greatest guitar players ever, and always seemed most at home on a stage in front of a big, dozen-or-so piece band.  Peaches shows off the unique genius that was Zappa amazingly well; a variable instrumental that combined a big-band sound with Zappa’s own signature style.

4.  Abracadabra, Steve Miller Band

For the most part, despite having plenty of radio play back in the day, Steve Miller was for the most part only so-so.  This song, though, while distinctly Steve Miller’s style, managed to be a good solid tune musically, even if the lyrics were kind of weak.

As always, feedback, comments and suggestions are welcome.

Rule Five Horse Squeeze Friday

A few days back, noted author and our good friend Jillian Becker had this piece over at her blog The Atheist Conservative.  Please do go read the entire article, but there is one specific quote I want to discuss here, that quote being from (formerly) radical leftist professor Bret Weinstein:

I explained in numerous interviews and essays, I was not a Trump supporter; I was never a right-winger, or an alt-right-winger; I was never a conservative of any variety. I wasn’t even a classical John Stuart Mill liberal.

In fact, for several years, I had identified as a left or libertarian communist. My politics were to the left (and considerably critical of the authoritarianism) of Bolshevism!  (Emphasis added by me.)

Now, take a look at that bolded portion.  Digest that for a moment.

Ready?  Now, I’ll tell you what I think of that:  It’s pure, unadulterated horseshit.  You can not say again not be a libertarian communist, any more than you can be a feathered fish.  The two are utterly incompatible.  Communism is a statist system, with government in control of the entire production system; in a pure communist state there is no enterprise, no entrepreneurship, no private property, no liberty.   My response to the original blog post was this:

I keep seeing this, “libertarian socialist” and similar horse squeeze being bandied about by idiots. The two are contradictory; you can not be a “libertarian communist” or a “libertarian socialist” any more than you can turn right and left at the same instant.

Liberty is antithetical to totalitarian systems like communism or socialism. Rectenwald is, in this sentence, talking out of his ass.

As Rand pointed out, contradictions in assertions of fact do not exist. One of the contradicting premises is always false; in this case, it is his claim to be libertarian.

Now, here’s the good news, and it’s news that gives me a little more hope for my fellow man; Dr. Weinstein responded himself to Ms. Becker’s commentary:

I am no longer a communist, nor a leftist of any stripe, believe me. I consider myself a classical John Stuart Mill liberal now, and thus, by contemporary standards, a conservative.

A John Stuart Mill liberal, or “classical liberal,” is closer to a libertarian than a conservative as the term is used today.  But that’s as may be; to Dr. Weinstein all I can say is, sir, welcome!  Welcome to the cause of liberty.  Please do all you can to spread that cause throughout academia, because as I am sure you know, that vocation needs all the exposure to the cause of liberty that we can send it.

What would be interesting to know is the story behind this conversion to the side of freedom.  Any thinking person can look at the history of socialist and communist governments:  The enduring misery that was the Soviet Union, the crash-and-burn economy of Venezuela, the brutal oppression of dissenters in communist/socialist nations from Cuba to Red China.  Did Dr. Weinstein read this history and apply his own capacity for reason to the observations of fact?  Did he stop to contemplate the prosperity enjoyed citizens of nations with free-market economies?

Whatever the reason, his conversion is a good thing.  Let’s hope for more like him.

Rule Five Video Game Friday

Worried about violent video games having an adverse event on American youth?  Worry no longer; a study done by the University of York has found no links between violent video games and violent behavior.  So far, at least; as with most actual science, there are conditions.  Science is, after all, tentative.  Excerpt:

In a series of experiments, with more than 3,000 participants, the team demonstrated that video game concepts do not ‘prime’ players to behave in certain ways and that increasing the realism of violent video games does not necessarily increase aggression in game players.

The dominant model of learning in games is built on the idea that exposing players to concepts, such as violence in a game, makes those concepts easier to use in ‘real life’. This is known as ‘priming’, and is thought to lead to changes in behaviour. Previous experiments on this effect, however, have so far provided mixed conclusions.

Researchers at the University of York expanded the number of participants in experiments, compared to studies that had gone before it, and compared different types of gaming realism to explore whether more conclusive evidence could be found.

The conclusion:

“The findings suggest that there is no link between these kinds of realism in games and the kind of effects that video games are commonly thought to have on their players.

“Further study is now needed into other aspects of realism to see if this has the same result. What happens when we consider the realism of by-standing characters in the game, for example, and the inclusion of extreme content, such as torture?

“We also only tested these theories on adults, so more work is needed to understand whether a different effect is evident in children players.”

I’m not a huge gamer but have played some; back when it was live I loved the old City of Heroes MMORPG, and I’m a fan of Skyrim and the excellent Witcher franchise.   CoH was comic-bookish by design, but the other two games are violent; swordplay figures heavily in both, with decapitations, flying gore, and in the Witcher series, prostitution and sexual acts.

Now I can only speak for myself, but I’ve never felt inclined to go out, take sword in hand, and start hacking away at folk on the street.  Nor have any of my kids, and three of the four are pretty hardcore gamers.

There’s another problem, though, and the same problem exists as when someone blames a crime on anything other than the perp:  It’s bullshit.  The only person, the only thing responsible for a crime is the person that committed that crime.  When we lose sight of that, the criminal justice system becomes… well, something like it is today.

Animal’s Daily Bat-Guano Crazy News

I know I’ve discussed this before, but here’s the latest from crazy town:  Gwyneth Paltrow is waaaaay out on the end of the hot-crazy curve.  Definitely in NO GO territory.  Excerpt:

Down the hatch, coffee can jumpstart a day. But, according to dubious advice from Gwyneth Paltrow’s posh lifestyle and e-commerce site, Goop, the popular brew can also kick off a whole year—when taken up the bum.

Yes, Goop suggests that a coffee enema is a “clutch” way to “supercharge” your “annual goop detox” and start the year in tip-top health. In its latest guide for “deep detoxification,” the Goop team recommends a device called an “Implant O’Rama” for squirting coffee up your keister at home. The product, sold by Implant O’Rama LLC for a bargain $135, is merely a glass bottle with silicone tubing attached.

First things first, as we’ve noted before, there’s no need to “detox”—unless you have kidney or liver failure, and/or have been poisoned recently. When in good working order, your body naturally clears any toxins you might encounter. And there’s no evidence that any DIY detoxing cleanses or diets improve health. That said, there’s plenty of evidence that coffee enemas and colon cleanses in general can cause harm.

Never mind squirting coffee up your ass.  The bullshit gets deeper than that – far, far deeper.  Here’s the best bit of the linked article:  Scroll down to the bottom and go through the photo gallery of “Other ways Goop recommends detoxing.”  This gallery includes such gems as “UMA Pure Calm Wellness Oil,” An $84 dollar water bottle to infuse your water with “positive energy” from a crystal, an $85 “Shaman Medicine Bag” with “magically charged stones,” and a $68 “Detox Body Oil.”

Ring any bells, fans of American frontier history?

While it’s amazing that anyone stupid enough to buy any of this horseshit could possibly have enough brain power to maintain autonomous body functions, it’s even more amazing that Ms. Paltrow has the chutzpah to take advantage of drooling morons – her only possible target market – by charging such prices for absolute crap.

Is she an idiot, or just a con artist?  Thoughts?

Animal’s Daily Marginal Literacy News

Now here’s a hell of a thing; one in five Americans, according to Pew Research, have not read a book in the past year.  And it gets worse!  Excerpt:

Last fall, Pew Research found that 27 percent of Americans had not read a book in the preceding year.

Unfortunately, our friends across the pond aren’t much better in this respect. According to a 2014 survey, roughly 26 percent of adults in Great Britain admitted to not reading and finishing a book for pleasure.

One might be able to dismiss such statistics to busyness or other similar factors. But is it possible that the growing numbers of the non-reading public are instead a sign of the decline of knowledge about books and the canon of literature in general? A March 2017 survey suggests such might be the case. Produced by The Royal Society of Literature, the survey asked nearly 2,000 British adults about their literature reading habits. Similar to the aforementioned 2014 survey, roughly 1 in 4 British adults had not read a piece of literature in the previous six months.

But even more interesting were the responses when researchers asked respondents to name an author of a literary work. As it turns out, 20 percent of respondents were unable to name even one. Of those who were able to name an author, more than half selected a modern, living author, such as J.K. Rowling.

Writers tend to be avid readers, and yr. obdt. certainly fits that stereotype.  (I’m currently on my ninth or tenth read-through of Asimov’s Foundation series.)  I can’t for the life of me imagine a life so intellectually impoverished as a life without books.

That must be a really good book.

Writing is, after all, probably the greatest innovation of civilized man.  It is the means by which we pass knowledge on down spans of generations.  It is through writing that Aristotle, Cicero, Mill, Hamilton and Jefferson speak to us over the centuries.  Books take us to distant times, to imagined futures, to far-away places, to other dimensions.

How, then, has it come to this, where so many people are without the joy of reading?

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links.

It’s hard to stay upbeat this Monday morning, even given our recognition of the appreciation shown for our Rule Five totty.  It’s hard to be upbeat, given yet another mass shooting – this time in Texas.  Excerpt:

A man opened fire inside of a church in a small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than 20 people and wounding at least 10 others before being killed or killing himself, authorities said.

The exact number of victims in the attack at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs wasn’t immediately known. But a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that more than 20 people were killed and between 10 and 15 others were wounded, though the official stressed that the investigation was in its early stages and the figures could change.

The official said the gunman fled in a vehicle after the attack and was killed, either by a self-inflicted wound or during a confrontation with police. The official was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

Federal law enforcement swarmed the small community 30 miles southeast of San Antonio after the attack to offer assistance, including ATF investigators and members of the FBI’s evidence collection team.

Among those killed was the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, and his wife, Sherri. Sherri Pomeroy wrote in a text message to the AP that she and her husband were out of town in two different states when the attack occurred.

I’m no more religious than a cat, but it seems to me that a small Baptist church in south Texas has to be one of the most peaceful, inoffensive gatherings of people that you’re likely to find.  Why, then, would the shooter, one Devin Patrick Kelley, choose to attack this gathering?

It’s too soon to know.  The usual suspects will, of course, surface to blame anything and anyone but the shooter – guns, politics, religion, whatever their pet peeves may be.  The only person responsible is, of course, the shooter.  But what his motivation was remains to be seen – and that will take some investigative chops to determine, since the shooter was killed by police after a pursuit.

It’s a sad day, again.  Our hearts go out to that small town in Texas.

Rule Five Civil War Friday

Yesterday’s post on the Antifa fascists and their “non-violent” resistance  got me to thinking.

There’s been a fair amount of talk lately about the modern American political climate.  I have to agree with the seeming consensus that American politics has become increasingly divisive.  Groups of activists are taking to the streets, and the protests are increasingly violent.

From 1861 to 1865, this nation fought a war between the States.  Are we heading in that direction again?  We may be, but it won’t be like the 1861-1865 war; not even a little bit.  Why?

Here’s the catch; any 21st century American civil war won’t resemble the 1861-1865 war at all. And not just for technological reasons.

The 1861-1865 war wasn’t really a civil war.  It did not involve two factions fighting for control of one nation, as did the two Roman civil wars of the late Republic, or the English civil war. Our war was a war of secession, where one part of the nation tried to break away and form a new country.  The Confederacy did not succeed in creating that new nation, and it’s probably for the best they did not.  There would likely have never been an overwhelming American superpower if the U.S. had broken up in the 1860s.

Our war between the states was also a war with clear geographic boundaries, North against South (mostly, the West was a little confused) and mostly fought by established armies in the martial traditions of the time. The tensions of that conflict are still felt today.

Any second conflict will be a true civil war. There will be few geographic boundaries, other than urban v. rural. This will be a conflict that doesn’t involve the military so much as gangs of irregulars; imagine Charlottesville if both sides had come armed and willing to open fire.

And second civil war will be fought amongst us.  It won’t be fought on open battlefields; it will be fought in our city streets, in the suburbs, on the roads and byways of our nation.

Imagine pitched battles on the streets of our major cities, what is left of established authority against rioting mobs.  Imagine those mobs engaging in raids into the suburbs when the cities run short of food and water. Imagine a complete breakdown of emergency services in those cities as first responders encounter armed gangs willing to kill them for their vehicles, equipment, and medicines. Imagine hordes of refugees fleeing the cities, into the countryside, under the misapprehension that somehow there is plenty of food to be had in the countryside, but having no skills whatsoever to find or grow said food. Imagine rural residents facing rampant theft and trespassing responding by forming their own armed militias to repel the invaders, and thus escalate the conflict into the countryside.

The situation will likely escalate, atrocity breeding atrocity.  Just read some of the rhetoric on Twitter and Facebook – two essentially content-free forums catering in large part to the lowest common denominator –  and imagine the fevered rhetoric therein translated to action.

There are only two ways any government could respond to this crisis:

  • Impose martial law and restore order by force. Such force would have to be overwhelming, brutal and merciless. Bear in mind that this option is likely to fail, as a significant portion of our military would likely refuse to exercise brutality on their fellow citizens.
  • Respond weakly and fecklessly, as when Jefferson Davis pleaded with an angry, starving mob in Richmond in 1864, finally turning out his pockets to toss a few coins into the crown. Such a response would be worse than doing nothing at all.

In either case, the United States as we knew it ends at that point.

Animal’s Daily Fascist News

Oh, for the luvva Pete.  I guess we’re all fascists now.  Excerpt:

As PJ Media reported a few weeks ago, the slogan for the Antifa-linked group’s upcoming coup attempt is “This Nightmare Must End: the Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!”:

Our protest must grow day after day and night after night — thousands becoming hundreds of thousands, and then millions — determined to act to put a stop to the grave danger that the Trump/Pence Regime poses to the world by demanding that this whole regime be removed from power.

Our actions will reflect the values of respect for all of humanity and the world we want — in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence fascist regime.

The group is putting out the word to friendly media outlets that the protests are intended to be “non-violent” — but, of course, left-wing protests seldom are:

Sunsara Taylor, who is with the organization, said they are planning “a mass non-violent political protest.” She said “the misinformation and lies being spread by the alt-right echo chamber about Antifa planning a civil war … are lies through and through.”

Taylor herself does not identify as “Antifa,” but said that the group welcomes protestors from all backgrounds, including those “who identify as Antifa, as well as Hillary supporters, Bernie people … ”

Obviously, any protest that welcomes Antifa and “black bloc” anarchist participation has a very high probability of becoming violent — something to keep in mind if you live in any of the cities on Refuse Fascism’s list.

Belaboring the Obvious.

I’ve spoken at length in the past about self-styled “anarchists” and what would almost certainly happen to them in an honest-to-gosh anarchy (a speedy and probably not painless death) so I won’t belabor that point any further.  Instead, I’ll just point out one obvious truth to these nuts:

Do you want more Trump?  Because this is how you get more Trump.

Hasn’t it occurred to any of these gonifs that in a real fascist state, they would have all been arrested, given a fair trial and executed by now?  This protest is almost the dictionary definition of “First World Problems” – the protesters, if you sum up their concerns in a single sentence, are saying “We don’t like Donald Trump so HE MUST BE A FASCIST!”

Seriously.  None of these dipshits could provide a working definition of actual fascism if you kept them at it for a year.  A thousand chimps beating on a thousand typewriters for a thousand years would have better odds of producing a successful set of governing principles.