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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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:
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.
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.
“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.