Category Archives: Culture

Culture for the cultured and uncultured alike.

Animal’s Daily Scamming The Rubes News

Lacking any religion of my own makes me impartial on the subject, but I’ll be the first to admit that all religions are not created equal; and Scientology strikes me as the purest of corral litter, suitable only for enriching cornfields.  Now we can take a look inside one of Scientology’s E-Meters, and we find that it – like most of Scientology as a whole – is the purest of bullshit.  Excerpt:

E-Meters are essentially ways of measuring electrodermal activity, or the ebb-and-flow of electrical activity on the surface of the skin. For scientologists, this measurement is interpreted as a way to “see a thought,” similar to a lie detector, although there is no scientific evidence to back up the Church’s claims. Over the years there have been several versions of the E-Meter produced by the Church of Scientology, which sells E-Meters to members for thousands of dollars apiece.

Although the Church attempts to stop former Scientologists from selling E-Meters on eBay, there are dozens of listings for E-Meters selling for a few hundred dollars each. Recently, the Swiss maker behind the Play With Junk YouTube channel decided to pick up a used version of the E-Meter that the Church used until around 2006.

Here’s the conclusion:

It’s a lot of hardware for a device whose only use is measuring the electrical resistance of human skin. Although Play With Junk is impressed with the quality of the hardware components, he said the device is “certainly not worth thousands of dollars—maybe two hundred dollars or something like that.”

In other words, the “Church” of Scientology is ripping people off, and calling it religion.

This isn’t anything new.  The “televangelist” craze of the 1970s and 1980s had their bad actors, a few of whom actually served jail time for fraud and tax evasion.  But the Elmer Gantry set seems like a minority in mainstream Christianity, although some of them amass some pretty substantial fortunes at the expense of their mostly working-class parishioners.

But the horseshit Church of Scientology seems especially egregious, with their bizarre ramblings of extraterrestrial beings and “thetans,” and the gobs of pseudo-scientific woo they use to extract money from the rubes.

It’s amazing, really, that anyone in this modern era is silly enough to believe this kind of bullshit.  But there are still Flat-Earthers out there.  It seems there is no idea so bizarre that some horse’s ass won’t believe in it.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

I’ve discussed the likelihood of a possible breakup of the United States before in these virtual pages before, but here’s a pretty interesting take on the topic.  Excerpt:

The problem? In short, there are no red states; there are no blue states. There are instead, counties and neighborhoods and streets and the couch versus the bedroom after an argument with a spouse or significant other over political matters.

“And so what?” asks the Pollyanna-ish reader. He (or the rarer idiot she) observes, “We split up and then there’s no more reason to fight?”

That’s wrong for several reasons. One is that it is the moderate and right-wing tendency in the red areas that politically constrains the left-wing tendency of the blue. Remove the red from the blue and the real reds of the bluest blue states run amok, with moderates and moderation suppressed.

Think here: Stalin in Birkenstocks, the spirit of Ho Chi Minh coming down from his gas tank in Boston,4 or a Pol Pot cognate with a degree in journalism from Harvard or Yale, rather than École Française d’Électronique et d’Informatique. Remember, too, that Bill Ayers’ Weatherman expected and, I daresay, wanted to kill twenty-five million Americans, one in eight of the population, one in five adults, to create their preferred society.

It should not need to be said, in a world of bright people, but, sadly, we don’t live in that world: I am pretty sure that the same happens in the red states, where the removal of the political Left leaves all kinds of wingnuts, to include of the white-sheeted, pointy-hatted variety, to create or recreate their own particular fantasies, and run roughshod over moderates there.

Yes, it’s true; a major societal collapse, and a civil war sure as hell would be one of those, would be a shitshow beyond imagining; and yes, it’s very likely that in plenty of areas the nuts would rise to the top.  Plenty of areas would be run, not by elected leaders, but by warlords who managed to accumulate enough guns and followers to cow the rest of the population.

It’s just too bad that some folks have some weird idea that a civil war would be some glorious reclamation of the United States’ founding principles.  It wouldn’t be the beginning of a renewed U.S., it would be the end of the U.S. in any recognizable form.  I’m not saying it will never happen; I am saying I hope I don’t live to see it.

Rule Five Utter Horseshit Friday

It seems some “panel of experts” has rated the top ten most dangerous nations on the planet for women, and guess what?  The U.S. made the list.  To which I can only say, what a huge steaming pile of crap.  Excerpt:

The United States has been ranked for the first time among the 10 nations deemed to be the most dangerous for women by experts in the field. A survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation of about 550 experts in women’s issues around the globe labeled the U.S. the 10th most dangerous nation in terms of the risk of sexual violence, harassment and being coerced into sex.

The foundation said the U.S. placement on the dubious list was down largely to the #MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns increasing awareness of sexual violence and intimidation of women in the U.S. in the wake of the criminal allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Here’s the list:

  1. India
  2. Afghanistan
  3. Syria
  4. Somalia
  5. Saudi Arabia
  6. Pakistan
  7. Democratic Republic of Congo
  8. Yemen
  9. Nigeria
  10. United States

Honestly, I can see most of those belonging on the list, but who in the hell can keep a straight face while claiming the U.S. is a more dangerous place for women than, say, South Sudan, about which shithole Wikipedia has this to say:

The United Nations rights office has described the situation in the country as “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world.” It accused the army and allied militias of allowing fighters to rape women as form of payment for fighting, as well as raid cattle in an agreement of “do what you can, take what you can.” 

How about Iran?  Here’s some info:

Unequal value for women’s testimony compared to that of a man, and traditional attitudes towards women’s behavior and clothing as a way of explaining rape have made conviction for rape of women difficult if not impossible in Iran. One widely criticized case was that of Atefah Sahaaleh, who was executed by the state for ‘inappropriate sexual relations’, despite evidence she was most probably a rape victim.

Differences in blood money for men and women include victims and offenders. In 2003, the parents of Leila Fathi, an 11-year-old village girl from Sarghez who was raped and murdered, were asked to come up with the equivalent of thousands of US dollars to pay the blood money (diyya) for the execution of their daughter’s killers because a woman’s life is worth half that of a man’s life.

Iran elected not to become a member of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2003, since the convention contradicted the Islamic Sharia law in Clause A of its single article. “Discriminatory provisions” against women in criminal and civil laws in Iran were declared “in urgent need of reform,” and gender-based violence “widespread” by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a report released 20 Oct 2008.

Where is any of this happening in the United States?

This panel of experts assholes should damn well be ashamed of themselves.

Animal’s Daily Pretentious Gasbag News

Here’s a pretentious little prat if I’ve ever seen one, and I’ve seen a few.  Excerpts and my comments follow:

I had an unfortunately rare pleasure over the Memorial Day holiday: I visited a real bookstore.

Who the hell made you the arbiter of what a real bookstore is?  Here’s a hint:  A bookstore is a brick-and-mortar establishment that sells books.  You don’t get to make up your own definition.

We do have a Barnes & Noble, though. It’s better than nothing, but spending time in the Lake Forest Book Store reminded me of the distance between most Barnes & Noble stores and a genuine bookstore.

See above.

It’s a strange paradox. In theory, Barnes & Noble with its significantly larger inventory should be more likely to have something I want, but the sheer volume of product makes it harder to find. Granted, I am one of those readers who normally goes to the store not on a specific mission, hoping for an unexpected or unanticipated match, but I suspect many core bookstore patrons are similar. We go to commune with the books.

Commune with the books?  What the hell?  What does that even mean?

I’m a big reader and one of my own distinct pleasures on my various travels is finding little local bookstores.  I wandered into one a couple of years ago in Gloucester, Massachusetts, spent an hour mooching around in the stacks, shot the breeze with the owner for a while and left with a locally-published book on historical New England glassware as a gift for my Mom.  But I’m also economically literate, and understand how business models change.  The rise of big bookstores like B&N hurt small local bookstores, yes, just like the rise of Walmart hurt little local hardware stores.  But it’s not little local “real” bookstores that are hurting B&N now – it’s online retailers like Amazon.

Business models change.  Publishing and book-selling are two business models that are undergoing a catharsis right now, and that’s not going backwards.  That makes it more annoying, not less, to see pretentious windbags wheezing on about “real” bookstores.

Rule Five Fleecing The Rubes Friday

Hucksters of every sort have almost certainly been around since the beginning of spoken language, but it takes a special sort of asshole to claim he needs a $54 million dollar jet to spread God’s word.  Excerpt:

The most frightening thing about Jesse Duplantis is that I think he truly believes what he’s saying.

I mean, at some deep, deep level, even a guy who wears a yellow plaid shirt under a navy blue blazer is woke enough to realize that having a conversation with God—and, by the way, God needs to improve His syntax—having a conversation with God about how Jesse needs a $54 million jet to spread the Gospel is, among other things, insane.

(Quick digression: As recently as the ’50s, anyone claiming to get messages from God was immediately booked into the Rusk State Hospital for the Feeble-Minded. Today these guys get international TV shows.)

By this time you’ve probably heard about Jesse’s appeal for help in granting God’s wish that he start using a Falcon 7X corporate jet for church business. His three previous multimillion-dollar jets have proved inadequate for the spreading of the Prosperity Gospel because their range requires Jesse to stop and refuel, thereby wasting God’s valuable time. Jesse’s video went viral and attracted all kinds of attention from the secular press.

What an asshole.

There’s more:

But why do these guys need jets? They all have them. In fact, it’s not uncommon for their churches to be built next door to a private airstrip.

They need jets for the same reason they need isolated locations for their churches, which are really elaborate television studios. Jesse Duplantis’ “church” is in Destrehan, an upscale suburb of New Orleans, where he lives in a church-funded mansion. Kenneth Copeland’s “church” is in Newark, Texas, a lakeside exurb of Fort Worth.

They need out-of-the-way locations for their church services, and they need private jets for their travel, because they can’t stand to be close to the starving, desperate people they take money from.

Of course not; sooner or later they might run into someone who got wise to the scam, and that someone might just administer a well-deserved black eye or cracked jaw.

But this particular asshole isn’t alone.  There are dozens of these sorts of hucksters on television and radio, fleecing the rubes who mostly can’t afford to be fleeced, and living high on the hog.  Occasionally one of them is busted and goes to jail, but not nearly often enough.

Back in the early 1980s, when I was married to my first wife, her grandfather – as kind and thoughtful a man as ever lived – used to send money to the detestable Jim Bakker.  I used to try to talk him out of it.  “But he needs the money,” Grandpa would reply.  “He does good work.”

“What good work?” I asked him.  My ex’s Grandpa was usually unable to name specifics.

He didn’t live to see Bakker thrown in the pokey, where he richly deserved to be.  I was glad of that much; Grandpa M. would have been hurt and disappointed, and he was at least spared that.

But there is something especially detestable about liars ripping people off in the name of religion – and bear in mind, I’m an atheist saying this.  This fucking conman Duplantis belongs in a jail cell, not in a private jet.

Animal’s Daily New Confederates News

This just in from national treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  The Confederate Mind.  Excerpt:

Progressives, in fact, seem to like the protocols of the old Confederacy in lots of ways. Southern antebellum chauvinists once claimed that the culture south of the Mason-Dixon line was innately superior to the grubby, industrial wasteland of the north. A two-class system of masters and slaves allowed an elite the leisure and capital to pursue culture without the rat-race competition of a striving middle class. So blinkered was southern arrogance that its pre-war youth insisted that southern manhood, with its innate moral superiority, could defeat a much larger, richer, and more industrial North — a myth dispelled early on at Shiloh.

Now the new cultural divide is not North vs. South, but the blue-state coasts versus the red-state interior. The map has changed, but the new mindset of the chauvinist, mutatis mutandis, is eerily the same. In blue-state doctrine, a sinking middle class in the interior deserves to fail. But an upscale hip and cool professional elite is properly thriving on the East and West Coasts as never before — itself often supported by legions of poorly paid and mostly minority gardeners, housekeepers, and nannies who free up their supposed betters to pursue higher things without tending to the drudgery of diapers, cooking, and mowing.

Pyramidal California has some of the wealthiest people in the world living within the coastal corridor of Hollywood, Malibu, Stanford, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco — even as one-fifth of the population lives below the poverty line, along with a third of the nation’s welfare recipients and half its homeless population.

It’s important to note that Dr. Hanson is part of a multi-generation Central Valley farm family.  He loves California and has written regularly and often about the decline of the once-Golden State at the hands of Left Coast urban progressives.

But his point here is well taken.  The American political Left has become weirdly race-obsessed.  For quite a few years now, many on the leftward side of our political system has held the belief that one should think, speak and vote a certain way solely because of minor, secondary regional characteristics such as melanin content – characteristics that have no real phenotypic significance, and which comprise an utterly insignificant portion of our DNA.

Humans have less genetic variability than chimps.  And folks like those running California seem willing to drag the country into another 1861 over the issue.  Have we learned nothing?

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Our usual thanks go out to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

This Monday finds us way up north in Miyagi Prefecture, having spent the weekend in Sendai.  Sendai is an interesting town, known for (among other things) it’s fine dining, which includes whale.

Yes, whale.  And yes, I partook.  This first taste was in a sushi joint in Sendai just a few blocks from the shinkansen station.  Whale was surprisingly tasty, although it was lightly cooked in the Japanese style and therefore undercooked by American standards.

Whale sushi. Delicious, delicious whale sushi.

These are little strips of whale meat, lightly braised and served on little beds of rice.  I don’t know what kind of whale it is but I suspect it would be minke whale, since that makes up most of the Japanese harvest.

Note that the minke whale is listed as an animal of “Least Concern” by the IUCN, which should (but probably won’t) fend off most of the squealing by the “save the whales” crowd.  And I confess, pissing off that subset of greenie nutbars is one of the reasons this has long been on my Japan bucket list – precisely so that when I run across one of the “save the whales” crowd, I can agree enthusiastically, adding, “yes, by all means – they’re delicious!”

Yr. Obdt. enjoying whale and Japanese beer.

So, True Believers, if you’re ever in the Sendai area up here in Miyagi Prefecture, the city is known for its whale sushi and various other whale dishes.  It’s also known for beef tongue dishes, but only the real nutbars object to beef.  In either case – try some!  If you piss off only one radical Sea Shepherd type, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Rule Five Age of Majority Friday

Florida has raised the age for purchasing a long gun to 21.  The drinking age is technically set by the several States, but back in the early Eighties the Imperial government used highway funds to blackmail the states to raising that age to 21.  Imperial law has for years stated the age to buy a handgun at 21, and now croakers in the Imperial City are talking about following Florida in the case of long guns.

I’m wondering if that’s such a bad idea.

Now, before you square away at me, let me explain.

Our society seems to have arrived at the conclusion that kids from 18 to 21 years of age are fundamentally irresponsible.  We don’t allow them to drink, to gamble, to purchase handguns; we don’t allow them to adopt children or (in most states) rent cars.

But at 18, we allow these kids to sign contracts.  We allow them to drive; we allow them to join the military.  We allow them to vote, for crying out loud.

Last month, over at Reason.com, A. Barton Hinkle weighed in on the whole gradual age of majority issue.  Excerpt:

The U.S. already has raised the drinking age to 21. But as is often noted, you need be only 18 to enlist in the armed forces—i.e., to volunteer for missions that could entail not only losing your own life but taking others’.

The age of enlistment offers two rationales for not raising the age at which someone can buy a gun. If you’re mature enough to enlist, goes one, then you’re mature enough to own a gun. (Rebuttal: Enlistees’ lives are regimented to a ridiculous degree. Unlike civilian 18-year-olds, they’re not being given free rein.)

The second rationale holds that if you are old enough to sacrifice your life in America’s defense, then you should have access to all of America’s constitutional rights. Indeed, that was largely the rationale behind lowering the voting age once the age of conscription had been lowered.

Of course, nobody ever died because somebody picked up a ballot in a moment of anger. Nor has an improperly or accidentally used ballot ever killed anyone. People die from gunfire under those conditions all the time. So there might be some sense in leaving the voting age at 18 but raising the age of access to devices that can kill.

Except that most states let teenagers drive without supervision at age 16—and sometimes earlier—even though the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety points out that “teenage drivers have the highest crash risk per mile traveled.” In fact, the Institute says, the fatal crash rate for drivers age 16-19 is “nearly three times as high as the rate for drivers 20 and over.”

So, the answer is obvious.  The age of majority should be regularized.  Teenage drivers are dangerous, it seems; obviously the Tide-Pod Eating Generation can’t handle rifles or shotguns, or a glass of beer.  Good, then; take this to its obvious conclusion.  Congress should immediately act to raise the age of majority overall to 21.  Prior to that age youths will not be allowed to drink, to drive, to sign contracts, to join the military, to purchase firearms and, most important of all, to vote.

At least then our idiotic graduated-age-of-majority system will be gone; at least then we will have some damned consistency.

And, yes, I am being sarcastic.  I actually am in favor of regularizing the age of majority for all things.  At eighteen.  But occasionally it’s useful to take an argument to its ultimate, ridiculous conclusion.

Animal’s Daily Civil War News

Here are two takes on a possible second American civil war:

Why Democrats Would Lose the Second Civil War, Too

And:

Think They’ll Never ‘Come and Take’ Your Guns Without an Armed Revolt? Think Again

Here’s a relevant excerpt from the first:

There are two Civil War II scenarios, and the left is poorly positioned to prevail in either one. The first scenario is that the Democrats take power and violate the Constitution in order to use the apparatus of the federal government to suppress and oppress Normal Americans. In that scenario, red Americans are the insurgents. In the second scenario, which we can even now see the stirrings of in California’s campaign to nullify federal immigration law, it is the blue states that are the insurgents.

The Democrats lose both wars. Big time.

And the second:

So what will you do, dear AR-15 owner, when the ‘Cheka’ comes for your neighbor, and you know the laws are on the books to prosecute? Will a “buyback” and “amnesty” be enough to convince YOU to acquiesce? You’ve got a job, a wife, kids to raise. When they “come and take it,” is your family worth risking? 

No, when they take your guns there will be no civil war. There will be no large-scale revolution, because liberals are experts at pushing that Overton Window enough not to shock the system. Like frogs in water that’s about to boil, people won’t jump until it’s too late.

Of the two scenarios, I am (sadly) inclined to believe the latter.  Why?

Because I honestly don’t believe most American gun owners are quite ready to join an armed insurgency.  I’d like to think I’d be willing.  I know quite a few of my fellow veterans would be, enough to make things pretty hot for the would-be tyrants.  But in the end?

Fifty years ago we were a nation of outdoorsmen, farmers, tradesmen and woodsmen for whom strength was their stock in trade and for whom marksmanship and woodcraft were taken as a given.  Now?  We have a generation grown up on the Internet and game consoles, and while many of them are ardently pro-Second Amendment (yes, really) how many of these mall ninjas would give up their homes and all their possessions, taking the risk of being shot on sight, to go forth and join a cause where the odds are stacked against you?

I sure hope I’m wrong.  I sure hope we never have to find out.