Category Archives: Culture

Culture for the cultured and uncultured alike.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Here are two possibly related cultural tidbits.  First up is the Invisible Boyfriend/Girlfriend app.  Excerpt:

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, countless singletons are no doubt gearing up to respond to that dreaded question from parents, grandparents and other nosy relatives: “So, are you seeing anyone?”

Instead of trying to justify your single status to your crotchety aunt, there’s also another option—downloading an Invisible Boyfriend or Girlfriend, which launched today from private to public beta.

Yep, we’re for real. The apps, founded by St. Louis’s Matthew Homann and Kyle Tabor, let users pay for “believable social proof” that they’re in a relationship. They generate everything from photos and meet-cutes to text messages and actual voicemails—all of them totally fake, but also totally realistic.

It’s easy to point to this and cry out, “oh, how pathetic!”  And, yes, it’s true that some – maybe most – of the people who will use that service will be those who can’t get a date any other way.  (Meaning, not at all.)  But it’s better to look at this from another angle; here, in fact, is a shrewd entrepreneur who identified a potential market and crafted a service to take advantage of it.  Homann and Tabor may well make a ton of money from this, and they will have earned it.

The second story takes Homann and Tabor’s target market to the next level, and it’s troubling for a place and people yr. obdt. is very fond of:  Nearly 50 Percent of Japanese People Aren’t Having Sex.  Excerpt:

Nearly 50 per cent of all Japanese adults are not having sex, according to a study, dealing a new blow to government efforts to halt the sliding birth rate.

Just think - this is what they're missing.
Just think – this is what they’re missing.

The report, conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association, determined that 49.3 per cent of the 3,000 people interviewed had not had sex in the previous month.

Of the men interviewed, 48.3 said they had not had sex for a month, while 50.1 per cent of women had abstained. Both figures were up about 5 percentage points from the previous study, conducted in 2012.

Asked why they were not having sex, 21.3 per cent of the married men claimed they were too fatigued after work while 15.7 per cent replied that they were no longer interested in sex after their wives gave birth.

Among the women, 23.8 per cent said sex was “bothersome” and 17.8 blamed being tired from work.

Too tired?  Really?  Too tired?

Is that even possible?

Rule Five Friday

2015_01_16_Rule Five Friday (1)Maybe the European Community needs a Second Amendment.  Europe’s Leading Rabbi:  Jews Must Begin Carrying Guns.  Excerpt:

One of Europe’s most prominent Jewish organizations is petitioning the European Union to pass new legislation that would permit Jewish community members to carry guns “for the essential protection of their communities,” according to a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The European Jewish Association (EJA), which represents Jewish communities across Europe, says that gun license laws must be altered following a string of deadly attacks on Jews in France and other European countries, where anti-Semitism has been growing at an alarming rate.

2015_01_16_Rule Five Friday (2)The recent attacks, including one on a Kosher market that killed four, “have revealed the urgent need to stop talking and start acting” in a way that empowers Europe’s Jews, according to a letter sent Tuesday by EJA General Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin to EU leaders.

The EU, which has enacted very stringent gun control laws, should empower and train Jews to be proficient with guns in order to maintain their safety, according to Margolin.

Sauce for the goose, Rabbi Margolin; if European Jews should suddenly have the right to keep and bear arms, so should other European citizens.

2015_01_16_Rule Five Friday (3)For it’s a sad fact that Europe, like most of the supposedly civilized world, denies a fundamental natural right to its citizens:  The right to self-defense.  It is perhaps belaboring the obvious to point out (as many on the Left will do) that one person with a concealed handgun may not be effective against two or more trained terrorists with automatic rifles and maybe grenades.   On the other hand, it’s also not inconceivable that an armed citizen, perhaps with the advantage of surprise, may take one or more terrorists out before any official response arrives on the scene – maybe saving some lives in the process.

But an unarmed citizenry is utterly, totally helpless.  It staggers belief that Europe prefers things this way.

2015_01_16_Rule Five Friday (4)The linked article concludes:  “Bottom line: Only the Police and intelligence can protect France’s Jews from terrorism,” (Rabbi Abraham) Cooper said, noting that it is expected French authorities will continue boosting defenses. “If the government doesn’t, then there is no long range future for Jews there.”

“In the meantime, additional steps by the community to train and defend Jews from hate attacks are appropriate, necessary, and prudent,” Cooper said. “I pray that all these steps will help.”

Again – sauce for the goose.  If the ability to defend one’s self against terrorists is good, then the ability to defend one’s self against criminals is good as well.  Maybe Europe should take a look at the bigger picture.

2015_01_16_Rule Five Friday (5)

Rule Five Friday

Here we are, with the first Rule Five Friday of 2015!  2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (1)

The year itself is a bit bemusing.  When I was a tad, growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I couldn’t have imagined what the year 2015 would look like.  If I had tried, I would have been mostly wrong.  I know for a fact (because I asked him) that the Old Man, who grew up in the 1920s and 1930s, is even more bemused by greeting 2015.

So what will 2015 have to offer?

2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (2)Politics:  A new GOP Congress will be seated in a few days.  Will they rein in what has increasingly become an Imperial Presidency?  Will they get serious about tax reform, regulatory reform, immigration?  Recent history makes one skeptical.  The GOP’s strategy lately seems to be a writ-large version of Mitt Romney’s 2012 debate performance against President Obama; every time Governor Romney had an opening, every time there was blood in the water and he had the chance to move in for the kill – he bunted.  I’m afraid the GOP Congress will do likewise.

2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (3)In retrospect it seems likely that Mitt Romney is just too nice a man for political campaigning.  Maybe what the GOP needs now is a pit bull.  Maybe they need more pit bulls in the House and Senate.  The Democrats have always been good at playing hardball; it’s high time the GOP learned it as well.

Science:  As noted in our New Year’s Eve post, there is indication that 2015 might be the year that we find life somewhere other than Earth.  If it happens, that’s huge.  It’s probably past huge.  It’s an amazing thing to consider.  But there will be other advances, in genetics, in medicine, in paleontology, in technology – things we haven’t been able to imagine.  One of the frustrating things about 2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (4)writing science fiction is coming up with some hyper-futuristic gizmo, writing it into a story, and then finding out someone has made one already.

That’s what makes science and technology fun.

The World:  Less cause for optimism.  Russia’s ongoing economic collapse may bring a halt to the dictatorial ambitions of Vladimir Putin, but then again they may not; the former chekist remains popular with the Russian people.  If he remains in control of Russia, look for his ambitions for lebensraum to continue.  Whether he chooses to run afoul of NATO or not is anyone’s guess, but this much is plain:  Putin looks at President Obama and sees an ineffective weakling.

So do many others around the world, which brings us to Iran, which rogue state is frantically refining uranium to build nukes.  In the considered opinion of yr. obdt., there is one chance in eight they will deploy a nuclear weapon in 2015.  Tel Aviv, 2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (5)London and New York would all be high on the target list.

And yes, that would likely be the beginning of an overt World War Three.  At that time, yr. obdt. may well find an answer to the question “how bad will things have to get before the Army will start retreading fat old men like me?”

In the meantime, life goes on, which brings me to:

Personal stuff.

Outdoors:  Hopefully a trip to Alaska is on the agenda this year.  Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. were last in the Great Land in 2009, which is far too long.  Loyal sidekick Rat and I are planning a black-powder season deer/elk hunt in the Gore Range in the High Rock Creek/Farnham Creek area, west of Kremmling.  2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (6)It’s good country but higher than we’ve been hunting.  I used to hunt that country a lot but haven’t done so much the last few years; it will be interesting to get back into those mountains again.  I’ve always had good luck in that country.

Travel:  Starting the year in Ogden, Utah, a place I love.  But at mid-year something significant might happen; Mrs. Animal has applied to the JET program, which (if she is accepted) will have her spending a year in Japan, teaching English to Japanese elementary school kids.

That will be interesting, especially as I have enough flier miles to travel to Japan twice.  We both love Japan; the people, the country, the scenery.  Neither of us would want to live there permanently, mind.  We’re much too American for that.  But it’s a great place to 2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (7)visit.

Family:  Last but not least, another grandbaby will make his/her appearance in late August or early September.  The Animal clan’s plan to breed the world into submission proceeds apace; look upon my works, ye mighty, and tremble!

So, bring it on, 2015!  We’re ready for ya.  To all True Believers, may your New Year be happy, healthy, and profitable.

Excelsior!

2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (8)

Goodbye Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Yesterday over at PJMedia, Dr. Helen Smith presented this; Prostitution Was Made Illegal – Is Porn Next?  Excerpt:

So, marriage is all about what bargaining power women have and finding ways to get men married off to benefit society, women and children–and maybe get better “trading partners”? Seriously? There is no mention of the benefits to men directly, only how their participation will benefit others. So all men are to be sacrificed to the cause without thought to their rights, needs or desires? It’s no wonder they have turned to porn. Prostitution was made illegal — is porn next?

In the considered opinion of yr. obdt., prostitution and porn should be legal – but that’s a story for a different post.  What is interesting about this story is the assumed benefit of marriage, per se, to men, women and children.

It’s a popular meme to point out that children brought up in a home with two parents who are married tend to be happier, better educated and to succeed in life more than children of one-parent homes.  This assertion is used by lots of folks to promote stable marriage as the best living arrangement for families, and sure, it’s a good arrangement; Mrs. Animal and I have done very well in just Smiling Bearsuch an arrangement for 23 years now, and the Old Man and Mom will in March hit their 67th year as a happy married couple, with five happy, successful kids (if you can call five people in their fifties and sixties “kids.”)

But there’s an issue with the meme that I think is broadly overlooked.  I think the cause/effect relationship is reversed.

It’s probable that responsible, thoughtful, motivated people with good work ethics, people that value education and responsibility, tend also to be the kind of people who follow traditional paths through life – school, career, marriage, children.  Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, some in my own family.  We’re talking broad trends here.  And the broad trend is this – these are the kinds of people that tend to produce happy, educated, successful children.

So the cause-effect relationship isn’t “marriage-responsibility-children-success.”  It may well be “responsibility-marriage-children-success.”

Until some study comes out that convincingly makes the case that traditional marriage in and of itself somehow conveys personal responsibility on a couple, I remain skeptical.

Rule Five Friday

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (1)Could it be that, even with all the issues that we face today, there is cause for optimism?  It would seem so, at least set in the longer context of human history.  Take a look at HumanProgress.org for some data that will give reason for hope.  A few tidbits from that site:

In fact, for most of human history, life was very difficult for most people. People lacked basic medicines and died relatively young. They had no painkillers and people with ailments spent much of their lives in agonizing pain. Entire families lived in bug-infested dwellings that offered neither comfort nor privacy. They worked in the fields from sunrise to sunset, yet hunger and famines were commonplace. Transportation was primitive and most people never travelled beyond their native villages or nearest towns. Ignorance and illiteracy were rife. The “good old days” were, by and large, very bad for the great majority of humankind.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (2)Average global life expectancy at birth hovered around 30 years from the Upper Paleolithic to 1900. Even in the richest countries, like those of Western Europe, life expectancy at the start of the 20th century rarely exceeded 50 years. Incomes were quite stagnant, too. At the beginning of the Christian era (CE), annual incomes per person around the world ranged from $600 to $800. As late as 1820, average global income was only $712 per person.

Humanity has made enormous progress – especially over the course of the last two centuries. For example, average life expectancy in the world today is 67.9 years. In 2010, global per capita income stood at $7,814 – over 10 times more than two centuries ago.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (3)But forget for a moment the last two centuries, and let us consider just one lifetime – that of the Old Man, who a couple of weeks back saw his 91st birthday.  One of his earliest memories would have been around 1926 or 1927, and that was the memory of the night his younger brother Lee died – of pneumonia.  In today’s world, Lee almost certainly never would have been in any danger.  He also remembers having twin sisters, also younger than he, who died shortly after birth, following a long, difficult labor.  Again, today, they probably would have been delivered by C-section and survived.  It bothers to Old Man to this day to think how his mother felt to have lost three of her five children before any of them saw their third birthday.

But that kind of thing wasn’t that uncommon then.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (4)Personally, I never had the chance to ask my paternal grandmother how she felt about any of that, because she died in 1944, aged fifty, a massive stroke almost certainly caused by undiagnosed hypertension.  Again, today, she would have been diagnosed and treated, and probably lived much longer.

Fast forward to my own children; our youngest daughter was born in 1996, three months early.  Mrs. Animal suffered through eclampsia and the labor was induced to save her life.  Both survived just fine, and our little Peanut is 18, now a second-degree black belt and a college student, so she obviously came out just fine – but a few days after the delivery the doctor presiding over this high-risk case told me “twenty years ago, they probably both would have died.”

It’s a great time to be alive.

Take some time and browse HumanProgress.org.  One of the things you’ll come away with is that there is one great driver to human progress:  Liberty.  As their “About” page states:

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (5)While we think that policies and institutions compatible with freedom and openness are important factors in promoting human progress, we let the evidence speak for itself. We hope that this website leads to a greater appreciation of the improving state of the world and stimulates an intelligent debate on the drivers of human progress.

Threats to freedom, threats to liberty and the rule of law are found all over the world, of course; most notably in the Middle East.  If one needs a reason to oppose the spread of Bronze age barbarity like that advocated by ISIL, Al Qaeda and the like, the Human Progress project will give you plenty of reasons.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (6)

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

And thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!  Check out the fabulous compendium of toothsome Rule Five imagery at the Sunday index.

This just in from National Review Online:  The United States of Anxiety.  Excerpt:

If 2014 had a grand theme, it was testicular absence.

In science fiction, corporations are deathless juggernauts imposing their will on governments and galaxies, but in the real world Sony, one of the most powerful business entities in the world, got cowed into submission by the release of some embarrassing e-mails and threats from hackers acting on behalf of the Evil Kingdom of the Hermit Midgets. Hollywood is forever congratulating itself on its courage for banging on, e.g., the American suburban bourgeoisie, because bourgeois American suburbanites don’t generally resolve disagreements by sawing off heads. But let Kim Jung-un take offense at your dopey Seth Rogen movie and Sony is suddenly a wounded kitten.

You think the Weyland-Yutani Corporation would put up with that nonsense?

Facepalm-bearJames Franco and Seth Rogen and the Sony brass might be man-shaped objects carved out of cotton candy, but they are iron men compared with the American college student. Students at the University of California at Irvine felt the need to avail themselves of the services of grief therapists after the grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for a shooting in Ferguson, Mo., some 1,800 miles away. It’s not like the UCI Anteaters don’t have legitimate reasons for grief – starting with the fact that they are called “Anteaters” — but a no-bill from a grand jury five states away isn’t one of them. Meanwhile at Occidental, students who were receiving class credit to work on Democratic political campaigns were reduced to shambolic mounds of blubbering distress by Republican victories.

Oh, the humanities.

This is a nation that has produced Presidents such as Andrew Jackson – the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, who responded to an assassination attempt by beating the would-be assassin nearly to death with a walking stick.  Also Theodore Roosevelt, whose considered reply to a pistol bullet in the chest was to go on and continue with his speech.  And those are just two of our ballsier Presidents – this is a nation that produced generation after generation of pioneers, men and women who found ways through unknown mountain ranges, across vast dry prairies and deserts, who founded towns, cities, industries.  We are – at least, we were – a nation of doers, of people who refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.

Are we still?

Are neurotic nitwits like the college students blubbering to therapists because of a grand jury decision half a continent away becoming the American norm?

Standing-BearWhat will human puffballs like this do if another Hitler arises somewhere in the world?

In Marvel’s fabulous movie The Avengers, the villain Loki forces a crowd of Germans (!) to kneel before him by an ostentatious display of power.  One elderly man, a look of determination on his face, gets back to his feet.  “No,” he says.  “Not for a man like you.”

“There are no men like me,” Loki, supposedly a Norse god, informs him, sneeringly.

“There are always men like you,” the old man replies.  A line from a movie, maybe, but a cogent point nonetheless.

Are we, as a nation, the kind of a people that would stand up to an actual, real, live, oppressor?  A Hitler, a Stalin, a Pol Pot?

The nitwitted students at UC Irvine are not.  These cottony, squishy children have not the slightest inkling what real hardship is, what real oppression is, or what a cold, brutal place most of the world is.  They would have no idea and no ability to face such reality if it were forced upon them; they would almost certain react by dropping to their knees.

One can only address them in the words of one of our founders, Samuel Adams:

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

An amazing scientific achievement was recently realized when a small probe semi-successfully landed on a comet.  But that’s not what I’m going to discuss today.

What I am going to discuss is the  silly, completely disproportionate and irrational response of some to the shirt worn by team member Matt Taylor at a press conference announcing the wondering-what-those-tatts-areevent.  For reference, here is the shirt:

It’s a custom made shirt, crafted for Mr. Taylor by a close – female – friend, and it depicts a bunch of comic-book women, some in a state of semi-dress.

Which, by the way, is nothing unusual in the comic book world.

Thanks to the screeching of humorless, vapid nonentities, Mr. Taylor was forced to go before the cameras again, to apologize for the shirt.

Now, in most of the businesses in which yr. obdt. does consulting work, the now nearly ubiquitous business casual dress code would balk at such a shirt – as it would balk at a shirt showing male comic characters, as lacking the decorum required in a business environment.  But that’s not relevant here; what is relevant is how the peripatetic-ally thin-skinned are so quick to screech their outrage at the silliest provocations.

There is only one proper reply to such screeching, and it is most eloquently put by the South Park anti-hero Eric Cartman:

Mr. Taylor was wrong to apologize.  He should have adopted what I will henceforth call the Cartman Gambit in reply to the hysterical outrage – “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”

Another example, from a few years back; in 1999, an Imperial City mayoral aide, David Howard, was forced to resign his position after using the word “niggardly” in a private meeting.  (To be fair, Mr. Howard was later rehired.)  For those who do not know the word, here’s the definition from Merriam-Webster:

nig·gard·ly

adjective \-lē\

: hating to spend money

: very small in amount

Mr. Howard’s use of the term was taken by some irrational – and probably only marginally literate – attendees as a racial slur, when in fact the word comes from the Middle English words “nig” and “ignon,” which have the primary meaning of “miser.”

No racial connotation in that word.  None.

 Again, the Cartman Gambit was not invoked.  But there can be no rational response to the irrational.  Apologies, though, should not be tendered.  This only serves to feed the beast, and then the next hysterical cry of outrage will be over something even more inoffensive.

Animal’s Hump Day Meat-Eating News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Here’s an interesting tidbit from PJMedia’s peripatetic undercover man-on-the-street Zombie:  I Am Ashamed To Be A Vegetarian.  Excerpt:

I’m a vegetarian. I haven’t eaten meat in 20 years.

Up until this morning I was OK with my dietary choice.

But then I saw this video just uploaded by “Direct Action Everywhere,” a radical vegetarian activist gang, and now I am ashamed. Ashamed to be associated with them. Ashamed that everyone I meet must think I’m some sort of anti-meat revolutionary. Ashamed that mean-spirited lunatics have hijacked my personal food preference and turned it into rallyng cry for passive-aggressive bullying.

Watch and weep, as a contingent of vegetarian fascists burst into a random restaurant in San Francisco and try to pull some kind of creepy mind-game on the bewildered diners:

Watch the video.  It’s a hoot.

Speaking as the guy who actually wrote the book about these people, this protest is typical – factless, clueless, and achieving nothing but an unearned sense of moral superiority on the part of the protestors, with no real effort on their part.  (See my own PJMedia article on the topic of “ethical veganism for some idea of what a real effort might entail.“)

Moose
Protein on the hoof.

Personally I prefer to hunt my own protein.  Only last Sunday all of us here at the Casa de Animal enjoyed venison burritos for supper, using up some of the last of last year’s fat meat muley.  This coming Friday loyal sidekick Rat and yr. obdt. will pack up high-powered rifles and sidearms and take to the field again to pursue wild ungulates, with the intent of killing and eating them.  Don’t like it, “vegans?”

Tough shit.

But, I digress.  Let’s get back to Zombie’s protestors.

The proper reaction on the part of the restaurant owner in this case would have been one sentence:  “Get the hell out.”  The incident described took place in looney San Francisco, however, where rational reactions are the exception rather than the rule.

breakky
Breakfast.

Make no mistake about the ultimate goal of these people; given the opportunity, they would use the force of law to prevent you from eating meat.  The “vegan” movement is, at its heart, fundamentally anti-choice; they are fundamentally against that very basic bit of individual liberty.

Fortunately they are a small part of the nation’s lunatic fringe.  Let’s hope they stay that way.