I'm using a fairly "non-noob" ISP (ssh access, crontab, etc...) and they still don't give me access to much more than PHP. I can install Java but I can't even run it as a CGI because of the HTTP request memory constraints they impose. This is pretty standard, I don't blame them for doing this, and I would go with a VPS if actually needed all this.
Same for Ruby on Rails, obviously.
To my downvoter, here's a list of "mainstream" providers, at the Godaddy-level, and language support:
Dreamhost: RoR, PHP, Perl, Python 
Godaddy @ $8/month: PHP, Perl, Python, RoR 
a2Hosting @ $3/month: PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python
That seems pretty mainstream to me.
I work for an ISP and in about three years nobody had asked us about anything¹ more complicated than a simple PHP hosting with FTP access. (We don't really advertise hosting solutions, though, as this is not our main business.)
If you want your ISP to support something like Java or Rails — ask them today. They probably won't offer it now (or - who knows - they may surprise you!), but unless they're a type of company where individual client feedback gets lost, they'll note your request.
¹) Except for a colocated hosting, to be precise. But that's completely another case.