animal human translation animal psychology bowlingual dog translator dogs japan meow lingual meowlingual

Bowlingual Dog Translator

I have owned a variety of dogs since I was five years old, and some seemed to be talking to me. My standard poodle, Lady, was the smartest, but she understood what I told her, but was not very expressively communicative. Buster, my most recent pet, a Shih Tsu, who sadly left me almost two years ago at 17 years of age, seemed to have the most to say, but I didn’t understand him.

Gayle Ehlman has described how to interpret your pets growls and body language but Takara Tomy, a Japanese toymaker, has made a device that can translate what a dog “says” into human language and emotions in real time. Go to their website and read “how they developed with an acoustics research laboratory and a veterinarian, the Bowlingual” which works wirelessly (your dog must wear a wireless mic around the neck). Let the device catch noises made by your dog (transmission range: 10m) and it will analyze the “animal language” with a special algorithm before telling you on the LCD screen what was being “said. (Cat lovers should know that Takara Tomy has also released the Meowlingual Cat Translator.)

Since Buster was always with us, whether in the bath room or bedroom, I might insist that he sign a non disclosure agreement before fitting him with the Bowlingual. However, the Bowlingual device is probably more of a novelty than an accurate translator and reviews of the device showed that it didn’t work too well….at least with non-Japanese speaking dogs. It does seems to work OK with dogs and British men in Japan. The Bowlingual device is difficult to find in retail stores int he U.S., but there seem to be a lot of units for sale on Ebay.

Baba Challenge boy toy Real doll Sarah Palin sex dolls

Baba Challenge, Sex Dolls, and Sarah Palin

It will never be an Olympic Sport, and Michael Phelps would certainly never participate for fear of losing his endorsements, but the Baba Challenge is a popular event which consists of traversing white water rapids while atop female blow-up dolls. The participants in this event, which takes place outside of St. Petersburg, Russia, are almost exclusively male, though both men and women are enthusiastic spectators.

What is the explanation for the seemingly exclusive interest in female blow-up dolls by men? The obvious is that sexual relationships with other people take effort – especially the relationship part. Dolls provide a way to skip this and get straight to the sex. Less satisfying? Perhaps. But for some men this may a trade-off that is worthwhile. Sex dolls don’t require conversation, do not need to be impressed, don’t care if you have a job, or if you live in your parent’s basement. And they are readily available online (BTW, none of the actual dolls look anything like the pictures shown). The company Topco even came out with a This Is Not Sarah Palin love doll in case there was any interest in fulfilling those erotic fantasies so many men were sharing on the internet. Perhaps not too many men were lusting after Sarah since Topco no longer sells the doll (you may still be able to find some in stock if you search online sex toy sites).

Of course, as mentioned in our post on 2-D Love, some men have given up on relating to real women altogether. Yet for some of these men, a pillow with a likeness of a female character is not enough, and they prefer a 3-D inanimate lover….or many of them.

And for the more well-heeled, a Real Doll can be had for somewhere north of $5000. Boy Toy is producing a line of dolls inspired by anime and comic book women. This company obviously understands its market…..

Of course the ladies should not feel left out. The Real Doll company makes male dolls to your specifications.


I Overheard

This is a pretty interesting site for run-of-the-mill bizarreness!

Angelina Jolie bizarre love blood love cults Lynette Fromme Mary Shelly Percy Bysshe Shelley

Bizarre Love

Over lunch with a colleague at California Pizza Kitchen (showcased in the show The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency, where Janice found one of her best models), we marveled over how the passion of love can influence adult decision making. I shared with him that Billy Bob Thornton was so in love with Angelina Jolie, and she with him, that he had a nurse extract his blood which he sent to Angelina when she was on location filming, and she wore it in an ampule around her neck. Billy Bob described that he and Angelina spent Christmas cutting their fingers and dabbing messages in blood on walls above their bed. He was quoted as saying, “…I had to restrain myself from literally squeezing her to death …Sex for us is almost too much.” Too much? Must have been because all of us know who Angelina is married to now.

Article on Angelina and Billy Bob and Harry Crosby (who I will write about in detail later)

My colleague then shared that the English Romantic poet, Percy Blysshe Shelley, after being expelled form Oxford at 19 years old, travelled with his friend, 16 year old Harriet Westbrook, whom he eventually married, but deserted while she was pregnant with his second child for Mary Godwin, who eventually became Mary Shelley, of Frankenstein fame. He traveled with Mary and her stepsister, Jane Clairmont (ménage a trois?). Harriet drowned herself in despair in Hyde Park, and then Shelley and Mary married. Shelley drowned at 30 years old in a storm while sailing his schooner, the Don Juan. During Shelley’s cremation, Edward Trelawny reached into the pyre and snatched his heart and gave it to Mary, who kept it wrapped in silk until her death, when it was interned next to her grave at St. Peter’s Church. Bizarre love? You decide.

Online editions of Mary Shelly’s works

Another example of bizarre love is/was Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s relationship with Charles Manson, recalled upon her parole today (August 5, 2009) at the age of 60. She tried to kill Gerald Ford with a gun that had an empty clip, despite her thorough familiarity with fire arms. In 1978 she described her feelings towards Mansion. She described him “a once-in-a-lifetime soul…. He’s got more heart and spirit than anyone I’ve ever met.” She said she still corresponded with him. “He’s got everything he wants coming from me, ’cause he gave me everything.”

Interesting article on Lynette Fromme

bestiality dogs dolphins fetish horses

Sex with a Horse….Again

Stories like this one pop up every once in a while. Bestiality seems to remain popular with a small number of people.

Research has shown that there may be some relationship between bestiality in childhood and adolescence and interpersonal violence (Hensley, Tallichet, & Singer, 2006) and there seems to be a higher rate of bestiality in mental patients when compared to the normal population (Alvarez & Freinhar, 1991). Haverlock Ellis, writing in 1906, elucidated three pre-conditions for bestiality: 1. Seeing animal procreation as similar in mechanism to human procreation; 2. living closely with animals; 3. Belief that sex with animals would confer power or cure venereal disease.

Even in modern times some White Supremacists believe that Jews and other non-white people are descended from Eve’s congress with the snake in the garden of Eden. In the middle ages women in parts of Europe thought to be witches were charged with having sex with the devil in animal form (usually a goat or ram). Psychologists usually see bestiality as a paraphilia, or in common parlance, a fetish. Paraphilias can be learned, usually through seeing someone else perform the behavor, or by associating some aspect of an animal (like the fuzziness of its fur) with pleasure at a young age. People who have trouble establishing and maintaining human relationships may be more likely to engage in bestiality and other paraphilias.

Here are some examples of people who enage in bestiality:

Interview with a couple who engage in bestiality

Man who died having sex with a horse and the farm he frequented

Dolphins are known to be turned on by humans

Alleged dog rapist

At least some of these examples support the psychological view of bestiality. Beirne (2000) asserts that bestiality is a form of sexual assault which should be seen similarly to child sexual abuse. In his view animals are not able to consent to sex and are harmed by sexual activity with humans. Nevertheless, bestiality is not yet illegal throughout the United States. And judging by the number of websites devoted to bestiality there must be a sizable number of people interested in watching human-animal sexual interaction.


Beirne, P. (2000). Rethinking bestiality: Towards a concept of interspecies sexual assault. In Podberscek, AL. (Ed.); Paul, ES. (Ed.); & Serpell, JA. (Ed.). Companion animals and us: Exploring the relationships between people and pets., 313-331. New York, NY, US: Cambridge University Press.

Ellis, H. (1906). Animals as Sources of Erotic Symbolism. Erotic symbolism, the mechanism of detumescence, the psychic state in pregnancy., Studies in the psychology of sex, 71-88. London: F.A. Davis Co.

Alvarez, WA, & Freinha,r JP. (1991). A prevalence study of bestiality (zoophilia) in psychiatric in-patients, medical in-patients, and psychiatric staff. International Journal of Psychosomatics. 38(1-4):45-7.

Hensley, C., Tallichet, SE., & Singer, SD. (2006). Exploring the Possible Link Between Childhood and Adolescent Bestiality and Interpersonal Violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21(7), 910-923.

ALICE artificial intelligence Sex Robot technosexual Zoltan


.Here is a very interesting article from Gizmodo. It sort of extends from the post of 2-D love and fembots. The guy interviewed in the article – Zoltan – has created an artificial girlfriend Alice. Zoltan works as a video game repairman and lives with his elderly parents. Although there are not any pictures of Alice, we are told that she is powered by artificial intelligence providing Zoltan what he feels to be a real interaction. Alice reminds me of Karen, the SpongeBob Squarepants character Plankton’s computer wife. Like Karen, Alice readily gives her opinion on Zoltan’s behavioral choices. Not everyone agrees that Alice has free choice. In fact, some think she is nothing but a sex slave, held against her will. There is even a sparse blog dedicated to freeing Alice, and Zoltan’s website is supposedly shut down due to criticism about his treatment of Alice.

Check out this serious article in Scientific American about the possibility of marriage between humans and robots.

Interestingly enough the thought of having a robot lover is not new. The website paleofuture has posted excerpts from a 1928 article about robot gigolos!

food party Harkarl Monkey brains monkey feast strange food Surstromming Thu Tran weird food

Strange & Disgusting Food

When I was a psychologist in a mental hospital I had a colleague who was from China. Ming had come to the US for his PhD and had stayed after graduating. One day after doing our rounds and encountering some really strange and disgusting behavior among our patients we started talking about the most disgusting things we had ever seen. Ming became really quiet and in a low tone said he had experienced something in China he would never forget. He then described a banquet he had attended many years ago. It was a very special dinner in which guests sat around a table that curiously had a hole in the center. The table was constructed so that a monkey could be secured so that only its head came through the hole in the center. Ming then described how servants brought in a clean, live monkey and locked it tight under the table with a metal collar so that it head was exposed. The host then took a special hammer and cracked the monkey’s skull, pulling away pieces of the skull while the monkey screamed. Diners then spooned out the living brain of the monkey and consumed it raw while the monkey writhed in its death throes. Ming said he was sickened by this dinner, but apparently being invited to the ‘monkey feast’ was a huge honor and he didn’t want to offend his host who was some big shot he pretended to eat the brain, or at least that is what he told us. Hardened as we were by working every day in the mental hospital we were pretty disgusted by Ming’s story. How could people be so cruel? Yet if look closely at the factory system that transforms animals in our culture – from chickens, to cows, to pigs – to food it is every bit as bad. And this says a lot about us as a people…

I consider myself to be somewhat of a ‘culinary anthropologist’ in that I believe food tells a lot about people and their culture. When we examine the origins of different food and how they came to be used in specific cultures we quickly drop into an interesting study in sociology, psychology, politics, and history. For a glimpse into the world of strange food check out the following:

Weird Meat

Weird Food

Strange Food Art (scroll down it gets better)

More Weird Food

Weird Food Laws

Disgusting Delicacies (not for the faint of stomach)

Surstromming (Scandinavian fermented fish in a can)

Harkarl (putrified shark)

Unusual Foods from Indonesia (don’t watch if you like pigs, bats, or cute puppies)

Tarantula Tempura

Here is an Italian delicacy one of my former students reminded me of…

Also check out one of my favorite artists and extreme foodie Thu Tran

Thu writes and stars in the independent Film Channel show Food Party which has to be the most bizarre thing on television – highly recommended! (And no monkeys are killed – only a ‘Cave Duck’)

2-D Love anxiety disorders avoidant personality japan social anxiety Taijin Kyofusho

2-D Love – Related to Taijin Kyofusho, & Hikikomori?

Another possible culture-bound syndrome from my favorite place! 2-D Love refers to people who obsessively fall in love with objects imbued with anime cartoon images. In the case of this article the love object is a pillow with an anime women character printed on it. My feeling is that this may be a specialized case of Taijin Kyofusho, a social anxiety disorder that often results in avoidance of others. While it is my belief that this syndrome is not limited to Japan but is found anywhere in the world where slacker adults move into their parent’s basement, the Japanese version is colored in unique ways. One of these ways is an obession with anime – the so-called Otaku culture. If this obession leads to interaction with real human beings then it is likely healthy, but if it becomes a defensive excuse to become isolated from other people then it may be a form of Taijin Kyofusho.

New York Times Article on 2-D Love

Is Taijin Kyofusho a Culture Bound Syndrome?

Both Taijin Kyofusho and 2-D Love may be related to another culture-bound syndrom called Hikikomori. In this disorder teenage boys refuse to engage in any way with the outside world, essentially becoming hermits in their parents home. These boys may stay inside for years at a time. The onset of Hikikimori behavior is typically related to a negative incident related to school – bullying, bad grades, or a failed attempt at romance.

BBC News article on Hikikomori

cobras hindiusm india pentecostal snake handling

Snakes and Religion Around the World

Where I live in Southern California it is now rattlesnake season. As the weather gets hotter, the snakes come down from the hills in search of water and inevitably encounter the human world. A few years ago, we found a rattlesnake coiled up in our garage one morning. And just a few days ago a neighbor killed a rattler in his yard. Rattle snakes are dangerous and where we live we have to be on constant alert for them. Unfortunately, when we do run into them either the human or the snake usually gets hurt or (in the snake’s case) killed.

This got me to thinking about snake/human interaction is other parts of the world and how snakes are often involved with religious activities. While snakes may be exploited in these religious ceremonies they fare better than the rattlers that make their way into our neighborhood.

Here are some reports on the Nag Pachami Hindu Snake Festival:

A Day of Revering Snakes in India

Festival of Snakes in Nepal

Three Die of Snake bites During Nag Pachami

Snake Temple in Kerala India

Here are some American examples including links to the 1967 documentary film Holy Ghost people which is well-worth watching:

Snake Handling Churches in America

Christians Disagree Regarding Snake Handling

It’s Better than Pot Smoking and Drinking!

Bob Jenkins and the Snake Handling Church Song

Snake Worship News Story

Holy Ghost People – Part 1

Holy Ghost People – Part 2

Holy Ghost People – Part 3

Holy Ghost People – Part 4

Holy Ghost People – Part 5

Holy Ghost People – Part 6

And in case you want to get closer to snakes…..

Harrison G. Pope James Hudson Repressed Memory

Debate Over Repressed Memories

The ongoing dispute over whether repressed memories really exist or are a modern construction….Could repressed memories be a culture-bound syndrome?

Ross Cheit’s Report on Repressed Memories

Another Version with Links to the Journal and Rebuttals

Professor Ross Cheit