Category Archives: Culture

Culture for the cultured and uncultured alike.

Animal’s Daily Bad Advice News

Check out my latest article on Glibertarians, Guns For The Country Home. 

Moving right along:  These days, you can count on the New York Times to dispense horseshit, and that’s too bad, coming from a publication that used to be known as the “paper of record.”  Here’s a piece from their “advice” column.  Excerpt:

My 12-year-old daughter had a sticker on her water bottle with a quote from Dr. Seuss: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” A classmate told her the sticker was racist because many people can’t choose what they want to do because of structural racism. My daughter peeled off the sticker and threw it away. When she told me about it, I was at a loss. I believe structural racism is real and pernicious, but I also think we should teach children that they have agency. And my daughter and I like the sticker’s message. Help!

Here’s the first paragraph of the Times’ response:

Twelve-year-olds are not famous for nuance. (Their greater claim may be making classmates feel bad about their water bottles.) But you are an adult. Start a conversation with your daughter that goes beyond slogans and stickers to a more thoughtful consideration of race.

What utter horseshit.

In the first place, I consider this a prime example of “I’ll take Shit That Never Happened for $500, Alex.”  I don’t believe this event ever actually took place.  Most of these “My X-year-old came to me the other day and asked why the United Nations aren’t doing more to reduce the developed world’s carbon emissions!” are fake.  Again, this is horseshit; kids just aren’t concerned with these things.

But that’s not the point I want to make.  Instead, here is what my response to this probably non-existent child would be:

“Here, honey, here is another sticker exactly like the one you tore off.  Put it back on your water bottle and leave it there.  Your friend is an idiot.  The message from Dr. Seuss is a great one, and applies to all children and adults of any color.  The truth is, there is no institutional racism in the United States.  We have a black man sitting on the Supreme Court alongside a Latina woman.  We recently had an Indian-American woman as our Ambassador to the UN.  We’ve had a black woman serve as Secretary of State.  We’ve even had a black man elected President of the United States – twice.  The very idea that the melanin content of one’s skin somehow defines their determination or their abilities is not only ridiculous, it is actually racist, by the strict definition of the word.  If your friend complains that she is being somehow held back by “racism,” tell her, “well, then, get out there and prove the racists wrong – millions of people have.”

But then, that message doesn’t fit the New York Time’s editorial agenda, does it?  Of course it doesn’t.  Too hopeful.

Animal’s Daily Stoned Vikings News

A recent find makes one wonder if Vikings in a Newfoundland settlement may have been getting high.  Excerpt:

The discovery of cannabis pollen near a Viking settlement in Newfoundland raises the question of whether the Vikings were smoking or eating pot while exploring North America.

The researchers also found evidence the Vikings occupied this outpost for more than a century, way longer than previously believed.

Located in northern Newfoundland, the site of L’Anse aux Meadows was founded by Vikings around A.D. 1000. Until now, archaeologists believed that the site was occupied for only a brief period. The new research, published today (July 15) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the Vikings lived there possibly into the 12th or even the 13th century.

In August 2018, an archaeological team excavated a peat bog located nearly 100 feet (30 meters) east of the Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows. They found a layer of “ecofacts” — environmental remains that may have been brought to the site by humans — that were radiocarbon dated to the 12th or 13th century.

These ecofacts include remains of two beetles not native to Newfoundland — Simplocaria metallica, from Greenland, and Acidota quadrata, from the Arctic. The layer also held pollen from Juglans (walnuts) and from Humulus (cannabis), two species that don’t naturally grow at L’Anse aux Meadows; rather, the Vikings could have picked up all of these plant and animal species when they sailed south.

Now, color me skeptical.  While this find is amazing – actual, hard evidence of repeated Viking occupation in the New World, predating Columbus – the headline is sensationalist nonsense.  The presence of hemp pollen isn’t any sort of evidence at all that these Norsemen were smoking or eating marijuana.  All plants of the hemp family have a variety of uses, not least of which are rope and clothing, two things that a pioneer settlement needs plenty of.

It’s too bad; LiveScience does this fascinating story a disservice with an unsupported, sensationalist headline.

Still, the story itself, that’s interesting stuff.  Two hundred years before Columbus, men and women in open longboats, with no sextants, no compasses, no clocks, crossed the Atlantic and established a settlement in what is now Canada.  And, they did it more than once.  That’s courage you have to admire.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Here’s a really neat model of Imperial Rome, circa 4th century AD.  Excerpt:

Rome was not built in a day and the ‘most accurate’ model of Ancient Rome is testament to this as it took archaeologist Italo Gismondi 35 years to build.

The Plastico di Roma imperiale (model of imperial Rome) was actually commissioned by Mussolini in 1933 and is so realistic that a few shots of it were used in the film Gladiator.

The model can be viewed today in the Museum of Roman Civilisation in Rome, Italy.The Roman Empire began shortly after the founding of the Roman Republic in the 6th century BC and reigned for thousands of years until the fall of the last Western emperor in 476 AD

It is so useful because it helps a lot of academics visualise Rome to aid their studies and gives a lot more context to famous structures, like the Colosseum, which we are used to seeing as stand alone buildings.

Roman cities were laid out so efficiently that it can also teach us more and inspire us about infrastructure in modern society.

But here are a few things the article gets wrong:

The Roman Empire began shortly after the founding of the Roman Republic in the 6th century BC and reigned for thousands of years until the fall of the last Western emperor in 476 AD.

From the 6th century BC until 27 BC, when Julius Caesar’s adopted son Octavian became effectively the first Emperor, is hardly “shortly after.”  And even then, Octavian, later Caesar Augustus, never called himself Emperor, only princeps, or First Citizen.

It evolved from a monarchy to a democratic republic and finally to a military dictatorship.

Rome was never a “democratic” republic.  While it did claim republican principles, in fact, the Roman Senate was selected from the nobility; the common people had very little say in affairs of state.

One of the most well-known Roman emperors is Julius Caesar, famously assassinated in 44BC, who is largely credited for his military mind and laying the foundations for the Roman Empire.

Caesar was never emperor.  He never used the title himself and never was referred to as such by his contemporaries.  He was Dictator, a position spelled out in and legal under Roman law.  While he was largely responsible for the fall of the Republic and the descent of Rome into tyranny, the title should not be applied to Julius Caesar.

But none of that should detract from the wonder that it took Italo Gismondi 35 years to build.  It was an amazing feat, this gifted man’s life’s work, and I’ve added it to my bucket list of items I must see when one day I visit Rome, that wellspring of Western civilization.

Rule Five Fatness and Health Friday

Before you ask, yes, my choice of this subject to be set against the usual toothsome Rule Five Friday totty was deliberate.  This appeared last week from PJMedia’s David Solway:  Why Is Fat a Feminist Issue?  Excerpt:

According to Gillian Brown in a recent blog post “Why is Fat a Feminist Issue?” from which I take my title, “Fat women are an embodiment of exactly what patriarchal society does not want women to be: visible.” Heft, she implies, is female revenge against a tyrannical masculinity that wishes to erase women from the public square, to obliterate them from view. Her thesis is so counterintuitive as to be visibly preposterous. Men have been promoting the presence of women in all the spheres of public, professional and institutional life for generations, often to their own material disadvantage. Men obviously enjoy looking at women, the more visible the better. Many husbands are quite delighted with their beautiful wives—I know I am—and happy for all the world to look upon them with appreciation. Men in non-repressive cultures are not prone to lock up their women, barricade them in some version of Bluebeard’s Castle or drape them in pup tents.

Brown’s argument becomes even more ridiculous when one recalls that feminists also object to the indigestible horror of catcalling and the malevolent prevalence of the “male gaze,” which would be impossible if women were rendered invisible. You can’t have it both ways but that never stopped a feminist. Not content with glossing over a blatant contradiction, Brown goes on to claim that fat men need not worry since they “are not expected to look aesthetically pleasing”—the perks of patriarchy. The statement is manifestly dishonest. But for Brown and her innumerable congeners, fat is a feminist issue. Fat should not be off-putting. Indeed, fat is fab, if we only knew it.

Brown’s arguments are, of course, utter horseshit.

Here’s the thing, and it’s a thing most rational people understand:  Being grossly overweight is unhealthy.  It’s often but not always a sign of a lack of self-discipline, and I say that as a guy with the not-too-unusual gut of a middle-aged man who makes his living at a desk.  It’s often a sign of a lack of self-discipline and, when so, it’s a sign of lack of regard for one’s own health.

There are no damned “gender issues” involved.  Excess weight is as unhealthy for men as for women – maybe more so, since men are more prone to cardiac issues and those are frequently aggravated by overweight.  According to the CDC, the risks of overweight include:

  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver)
  • Low quality of life
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning

No patriarchy required.  Just medical science and a healthy dose of good sense.

The article concludes:  As noted, Gillian Brown argues that men believe “women should not take up space.” It seems that one of the ways in which many feminists are determined to fight the patriarchy, trash the ideal of aesthetic beauty, justify the bizarre and renovate the culture in their image is precisely…to take up space.

It’s not space so much as bandwidth.  These hysterics aren’t interested in changing the culture of a nation that, by and large, ignores them.  They’re just trying for attention.

Animal’s Daily Mexican Standoff News

In case you’re one of the three people in North America who hasn’t noticed, Mexico is a real mess.  Excerpt:

More than 135,000 people have been killed since 2012. More than 1,300 clandestine graves have turned up since 2007. More than 37,000 people are reported missing. More than 600 soldiers have been killed in the drug war. At least 130 politicians and nine journalists were killed preceding the elections in July. And the violence is indeed spreading. Murder rates have risen in 26 of the country’s 32 states. In 2014, 152 municipalities accounting for 43 percent of Mexico’s population reported at least one execution-style murder per month; in 2017, the number grew to 262 municipalities and 57 percent of the population. Villages have become worse than cities: 40 percent of the population lives outside metropolitan areas but suffers 48 percent of homicides.

Most killings remain tied to the drug wars, but a growing share comes from robbery, assault, extortion, and kidnapping. “Mexico is no longer a world of cartels and capos,” says Alejandro Hope, a security specialist based near Mexico City. Organized crime networks control territory to varying degrees in 19 states and the capital, but much less of their profits comes from the U.S. drug market, which has become more competitive. The biggest new business is stealing oil from the state-owned energy company, Pemex. Mexico has the largest, most efficient black-market fuel-distribution network in the world, Hope says. In Puebla, reported thefts from pipelines spiked from 15 in 2000 to 1,533 in 2016. Guanajuato—emblematic of the good and bad Mexico—ranks third among states in job creation, thanks to its auto industry, and first in homicides, due to murders tied to fuel thefts from refineries.

Train robberies and carjackings are more frequent. Robbery of cargo trucks has jumped 180 percent in two years. Coca-Cola and Pepsi refuse to send delivery trucks into parts of Acapulco because so many have wound up stolen and burned. The rate of reported house robberies reached an all-time high of 179.4 per 100,000 homes in 2017. More than 80,000 people were reported kidnapped. Some 5,000 children have been abducted between 2007 and 2018, 40 percent from the states of Puebla and Mexico, where human-trafficking bands are known to operate.

Read the entire article, as it’s an eloquent examination of events and possible causes of the failed narco-state on our southern border.

And honestly, anyone who thinks we don’t need to completely control our southern border needs to take a good hard look at this; in fact, they should have their damn noses rubbed in it.  It’s not only likely that this crap could spill over our border, violence and corruption already is; one of the most horrific examples is the rise of MS-13 in our borders, and while their origins aren’t in Mexico, almost all of them transit Mexico on the way here.  And if you think that Mexican criminal organizations won’t eventually start to look harder at their wealthy northern neighbor, you’re probably drinking too much of your bong water.

But note the line above:  “…but much less of their profits comes from the U.S. drug market, which has become more competitive.”  It would be interesting to know some of the metrics here, which are not presented in this article.  Specifically; how much has the ongoing trend of marijuana legalization affected these profits?

I don’t know the answer to that.  And, to be honest, while I’ve long been a critic of the War on Drugs, I don’t think that our changes in drug policy are going to help Mexico all that much; they have systemic issues that go beyond that.  The Mexican criminal gangs will just turn to other malpractices if completely deprived of drug income, and you can see some examples in the article; kidnapping, robbery, theft, hijacking.

While this is a problem Mexico needs to address, it’s a significant issue that speaks to our inadequate border security.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Thanks to blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback!

So here, from U.S. News and World Report, are the 125 best places to live in the United States.  The ratings are partly on polling, partly on such things as crime rates, employment rates, mean household income, housing prices and a few other things.  Here are the top twenty:

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. Denver, Colorado
  3. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  4. Fayetteville, Arkansas
  5. Des Moines, Iowa
  6. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
  7. San Francisco, California
  8. Portland, Oregon
  9. Seattle, Washington
  10. Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina
  11. Huntsville, Alabama
  12. Madison, Wisconsin
  13. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  14. San Jose, California
  15. Nashville, Tennessee
  16. Asheville, North Carolina
  17. Boise, Idaho
  18. Sarasota, Florida
  19. Washington, D.C.
  20. Charlotte, North Carolina

Interesting to see our own Denver in the second spot, with neighbor Colorado Springs next.  But there a couple in there that make me question the entire list.  Specifically:

7. San Francisco, California

Are you kidding me?  The place has astronomical housing prices, and is literally – not figuratively, literally – a shithole.  The city’s vagrant population is completely out of control, while draconian zoning and land use regulations keep any affordable development from spoiling the ocean views of those folks in the tony gated communities (we’re talking about you, Speaker Pelosi.)

19. Washington, D.C.

Again, are you kidding me?  The city is full of the kind of people you’d cross the street to avoid – and that’s just the politicians.  The Imperial City has neighborhoods only blocks from the Imperial Mansion that you wouldn’t want to wander into unless you were accompanied by a squad of Marines in full gear.

There’s something else to this list besides the scoring methods they mention.  But then, it’s a real estate page, so…

Rule Five Seattle’s Downhill Slide Friday

The city of Seattle has been a friendly place for the homeless for quite a while now, thanks to its compassionate, enabling city government.  That policy has yielded predictable results, and many city residents have damn well had enough.  Excerpt:

For the past five years, like many of its West Coast counterparts, Seattle has endured a steady expansion of homelessness, addiction, mental illness, crime, and street disorder. But the activist class—a political and cultural elite comprising leaders in government, nonprofits, philanthropy, and media—has enforced a strict taboo on declaring the obvious: something is terribly wrong in the Emerald City.

Last month, veteran Seattle reporter Eric Johnson of KOMO violated that taboo with a shocking, hour-long documentary called Seattle is Dying, which revealed how the city has allowed a small subset of the homeless population—drug-addicted and mentally-ill criminals—to wreak havoc. Johnson’s portrait is backed up by evidence from King County homelessness data, by city attorney candidate Scott Lindsay’s “prolific offender” report on 100 homeless individuals responsible for more than 3,500 criminal cases, and by my own reporting on the homelessness crisis.

In the past two weeks, Seattle Is Dying has garnered 38,000 shares on Facebook and nearly 2 million views on YouTube. The report has clearly resonated with anxious, fearful, and increasingly angry Seattle residents. Exhausted by a decade of rising disorder and property crime—now two-and-a-half times higher than Los Angeles’s and four times higher than New York City’s—Seattle voters may have reached the point of “compassion fatigue.” According to the Seattle Times, 53 percent of Seattle voters now support a “zero-tolerance policy” on homeless encampments; 62 percent believe that the problem is getting worse because the city “wastes money by being inefficient” and “is not accountable for how the money is spent,” and that “too many resources are spent on the wrong approaches to the problem.” The city council insists that new tax revenues are necessary, including a head tax on large employers, but only 7 percent of Seattle voters think that the city is “not spending enough to really solve the problem.” For a famously progressive city, this is a remarkable shift in public opinion.

Seattle isn’t the only Left Coast city headed down this dark path; as I’ve stated previously in these virtual pages, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the formerly great city of San Francisco is suffering from a similar fate, due to similar causes.

I have some fond memories of Seattle.  I spent a few weekends up there in the mid-Eighties, during a brief stint for training at Ft. Lewis, WA, down Tacoma way.  I remember it then as a clean city, an interesting city, with enough night life to keep a young man interested and enough scenery and culture to keep the daytimes interesting as well.  It’s a shame to see that city fall into this kind of disarray.

But it’s a hard fact of economics that what you subsidize you get more of, and Seattle and Frisco have been directly and indirectly subsidizing their indigent populations for a long time now.  This combination of acceptance of bums at the expense of the productive, combined with a salubrious climate, has made these Left Coast cities a magnet.

But as this article notes:  After dictating homelessness policy for a generation, the activist class is losing the narrative—and this accounts for its increasingly desperate counterattacks. As their support among voters erodes and principled journalists like Johnson break the silence about homelessness, they fall back on branding their concerned neighbors “bigots,” “fascists,” and “white supremacists.” It’s not working the way it used to. In Seattle, a reckoning on homelessness may not be far off.

Is it too late for Seattle to turn this around?  They’ll have to change they way they vote, first.  For the root cause of this problem, Seattleites must look to their city council – and their state legislature.

Animal’s Daily Medieval Savages News

So now there’s this from the compassionate and enlightened practitioners of Islam:  In Brunei, under new Sharia-inspired legislation, gays and cheating spouses may be stoned to death.

Fucking savages.  Excerpt:

The move to make gay sex an offence punishable by stoning to death has sparked international condemnation and outcry.

The majority Muslim nation already implements Sharia laws, with homosexuality punishable with up to ten years in prison.

But from today, the government is planning to change the penal code to mean LGBT+ people could be stoned to death for same-sex activity.

Under the new laws, thieves could also have their right hand amputated for a first offence and the left foot for a second.

The punishments – which also apply to children – are in new sections under Brunei’s Sharia Penal Code.

Brunei was the first East Asian country to introduce Islamic criminal law in 2014 when it announced the first of three stages of legal changes.

This included fines or jail for offences like pregnancy outside marriage or failing to pray on Friday.

Now, the United States has a blemish or two in its history – as does every nation, everywhere, every time.  But folks who like to bemoan America’s evils should go experience life in a place like Brunei, or Iran, or Venezuela, or North Korea.  There is real evil in the world, real, determined evil, and places like these are where one can go to see it first-hand.

America is, by and large, a force for good in the world.  Brunei, admittedly, is a flyspeck on the world stage – but it’s a flyspeck that has written into law the tenets of a major world religion, the only one of the major Abrahamic faiths that has not undergone their long-overdue reformation.

There are voices in Europe, in Scandinavia, in the UK, in Germany – who advocate for implementation of Sharia law in their insular communities.   Well, True Believers, this is what Sharia law looks like – and they won’t be content to keep it to themselves.

Animal’s Daily Tales of Two Cities News

There’s a lot to like about Japan.

Be sure to check out the latest in my History of Lever Guns series over at Glibertarians!

Unless you just haven’t been paying attention recently, you’ll know that Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. have been enjoying a semi-working vacation in Tokyo these last few days.

If you’ve been reading these virtual pages for a while, you’ll also know that we spent 2017 in the ever-more-loony San Francisco Bay area.

So, with that being the case, I can’t help but to draw some comparisons between the two cities.

I’m generally not a fan of big cities.  I grew up in rural and small town environments, and the hustle and bustle of big metropolitan areas has never appealed to me.  But even so, I love Japan, and I love Tokyo.  I like being out in the countryside and in the small towns in Japan more than being in Tokyo, of course, but on this particular trip we stayed in the Tokyo metro area the entire time, and had a ball.  But I can’t abide most major American cities (although I’m rather fond of Boston), I really can’t abide the nutbar Bay Area, and in that year in the area I came to downright loathe San Francisco.

So what’s the difference in these two cities?  Why is San Francisco now a literal shithole, littered with human feces, used needles, and derelicts sleeping in doorways?  Why is Tokyo a clean, prosperous city that young people from all over Japan want to come live and work in?

An apartment high-rise in Kinshicho.

A big part of it is housing.  The suburb we are staying in, Kinshicho, like many of Tokyo’s neighborhoods has a pretty fair number of high-rise apartment buildings.  In our travels around Tokyo and indeed other places in Japan, we’ve seen a lot of these and more going up.  In other words, Japan deals with a population density and housing cost issue that America cities can’t imagine by vertical filing.

Why can’t American cities do this?  Why can’t the Bay Area, a place notorious for horrifying housing prices, build some similar high-rise developments to provide affordable housing?  “Affordable Housing” is a shibboleth of the political Left, which has a hammerlock on this city; why then do they insist on restrictive land-use and building codes that make this almost impossible?

“But Animal,” some of these same left-leaning folks might say, “we shouldn’t force people to live in massive high-rises!”  Well, sure, I quite agree.  But why not open up the possibilities for developers to build some of these efficient, small-apartment high-rises and see if people might choose to live in them?

You know – like a free country might?

Tokyo isn’t a perfect place.  The cost of housing is still high; you’re starting to see little acts of hooliganism like graffiti, which you never saw a few years ago.  But Tokyo also houses several orders of magnitude more human beings than live in the Bay Area, and manages to find ways that young folks starting out can afford to live.  And Tokyo is a clean city.  You rarely see discarded trash in the streets, much less spent needles and human shit.

We could learn a thing or two from Japan.

Animal’s Daily Homophobic Trump News

Yes, President Trump hates gay people.  That’s probably why his administration is leading a campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide.  Excerpt:

The Trump administration is launching a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of nations where it’s still illegal to be gay, U.S. officials tell NBC News, a bid aimed in part at denouncing Iran over its human rights record.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading the effort, which kicks off Tuesday evening in Berlin. The U.S. embassy is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner to plan to push for decriminalization in places that still outlaw homosexuality — mostly concentrated in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” said a U.S. official involved in organizing the event.

Here’s NBC’s hedge:

Yet by using gay rights as a cudgel against Iran, the Trump administration risks exposing close U.S. allies who are also vulnerable on the issue and creating a new tension point with the one region where Trump has managed to strengthen U.S. ties: the Arab world.

In Saudi Arabia, whose monarchy Trump has staunchly defended in the face of human rights allegations, homosexuality can be punishable by death, according to a 2017 worldwide report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). The report identified 72 nations that still criminalize homosexuality, including eight where it’s punishable by death.

That list includes the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Afghanistan — all U.S. allies — although those countries aren’t known to have implemented the death penalty for same-sex acts. In Egypt, whose leader Trump has effusively praised, homosexual relations aren’t technically illegal but other morality laws are used aggressively to target LGBT people.

As far as our allies go – and the use of scare quotes around “allies” may be appropriate here – well, screw ’em.  They can join the damned 21st century like the rest of the world.

Look, you can agree or disagree with homosexuality – or, like me, not really give a damn one way or another as long as people leave me alone – and still agree that throwing people off of roofs or stoning to them to death is barbaric.  The criminalization of activities that are engaged in freely by consenting adults is a remnant of a less civilized time, and if we can bring some diplomatic pressure to bear on these uncivilized pricks and give Iran a good kick in the teeth in the bargain, I say, “Bravo, President Trump!”