November 2017 news

November 2017 newsletter with links on genetics, reinforcement learning, psychology, economics; 2 book reviews, 1 movie review
topics: newsletter
source; created: 17 Oct 2017; modified: 20 Feb 2020; status: finished; confidence: log; importance: 0

This is the November 2017 edition of ; previous, (). This is a summary of the revision-history RSS feed, overlapping with my & ; brought to you by my donors on Patreon.







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    cinéma vérité-style documentary on Japanese “host clubs” in Osaka, the much more niche female counterpart to the better known , based entirely on interviews of the “hosts” and their female customers. Like hostess clubs, the business model is nightly companionship/partying in exchange for buying large amounts of overpriced alcoholic beverages; sex is sometimes involved. There apparently are only a few host clubs of the type documented, I believe ~25 is quoted at one point, which is very small compared to the usual East Asian sex worker sectors. The female customers interviewed and profiled are not, as one might expect, older or unattractive women, but often young and attractive to the degree that the hosts themselves are not. (It struck me as odd that the hosts themselves are so physically unremarkable, even unattractive, with bizarre fashion choices and hairstyles, but I think the right interpretation here is that it’s more about being a “costume” and possibly connected with PUA’s ‘peacocking’.) The quoted expenditures are even more eyebrow-raising, as while blowing $200 cash on a special occasion may be justifiable, it’s different when one is spending easily $1000 multiple times a week or higher. Even for young women with no responsibilities & much disposable income who might otherwise be collecting Prada handbags, it’s hard to see how these sums are possible. And what do their boyfriends or families think?

    The documentary lets these questions linger and then halfway through flips the tables: the main female customers—perhaps 70%, one host estimates—are prostitutes! They are going to the host clubs for the emotional connections so severed in their daily work, and of course, it’s possible to raise large sums of cash on a regular basis (at least, for a few years…) to spend on their host club. And for all their protestations of being in love with the hosts, the hosts note that many of the customers frequent multiple host clubs simultaneously, playing at being in love in each one. Naturally, having blown their income on such ephemeral pleasures, they’ll find it that much harder to find any alternative career. So the few Osaka host clubs turn out to be parasitic on the larger ecosystem of hostess clubs/“water trade” in Osaka, fostering a toxic co-dependency between hosts and the customers. Osaka may be somewhat extreme as Japanese cities go due to its sheer size, commercial culture, and sex industry presence (eg Tobita Shinchi); nevertheless.

    No one interviewed appears unaware of the questionable ethics of working at a host club, lending a certain furtiveness to discussion of skills in handling customers & extracting money, and exhorting each other to push harder. But they also defend it too—a particularly moving defense is saved for the end, by one short chubby host who, almost crying, defends the host club institution for providing an escape, for providing human connections, for these lonely people in the big city.