Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

The small force that it takes to launch a boat into the stream should not be confused with the force of the stream that carries it along.
-  Friedrich Nietzsche

The day has at last arrived!  Tonight at 6:30 I’ll be appearing at the Healthy Rhythm Community Art Gallery in Fairfield, Texas (a bit southeast of Dallas) to read selections from my book, sell copies, sign autographs and answer questions.  I met the gallery’s owner, Ken Vail, at the Southern Harm Reduction Conference in New Orleans last December, and when I told him I would be publishing a book soon the first question out of his mouth was, “Have you chosen a place to do your first book signing?”  When I told him I hadn’t he volunteered his gallery, and here we are!  I hope some of my readers from the Dallas area (and Austin & Houston, if you don’t mind a two-hour drive) can make it out to show your support; if you’ve already got a copy I’ll sign it for you, and if not I’ll have a whole box of ‘em with me.  If you live farther away, check my tour page to see when I’ll be close to you, and if you have any advice or input about events I should attend, places that would like to host a book signing or have me speak, etc, please let me know.  If you own or manage a business or organization and would like to hold an event for me, please contact me ASAP so we can work out the details; if you aren’t the boss but still think you could put in a good word, let me know that too!  And even if you live outside the US, or in a part of the country I won’t be visiting, please take a moment this evening to beam me a few prayers, positive vibes, good thoughts, best wishes or whatever the equivalent in your philosophy; as I embark on this new adventure outside my comfort zone, I’ll take all the help I can get. Beach Scene by Konstantin Razumov

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The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.  -  H.L. Mencken

So, were y’all thoroughly confused yesterday?  Were you wondering who the hell wrote that crap that was posted under my name, or did you think it was a great improvement over my usual baroque sentence structure and outré descriptions?  Did you find yourself saying, “Ye gods and little fishes, it’s as though Ernest Hemingway had come back from the dead to write a guest column!”  Or did you not even notice anything amiss?

dumb kid from ShaneYesterday was, of course, April Fools’ Day, and for this year’s prank I decided to run my Reason essay “The Mythical Invasion of the Super Bowl Hookers” through Hemingway, a program which purports to “improve” your writing by making it “bold and clear”…in other words, by shortening and simplifying each sentence down to a level that would not confuse a rather slow-witted ten-year-old.  Hemingway said that my original text was “OK”, with 16 demerits; the final product was rated “good” with only 8, though I had eliminated everything the machine had labeled a “problem”.  Presumably, my score couldn’t get any lower because it still had too many words of more than one syllable and too many highfalutin’ terms like “prohibitionist”, “television” and “Canada”.

Now, in part I did this was because I thought it would be funny; not necessarily Monty Python funny, Three Stooges Funny or even Noël Coward funny, but at least whimsically amusing.  But I also did it to show just how stupid it is to defer to the aesthetic sensibilities of something that would lose in a battle of wits with a starfish.  Even if one stupidly believes that there is only one kind of good writing, and suffers from the lamentable but popular delusion that Hemingway was its archetype, and furthermore imagines that even Hemingway always wrote in that clipped, easily-parodied style we refer to as “Hemingwayesque” (which he did not), the notion that a glorified Nintendo console is qualified to judge adherence to that standard is ludicrous at best.  But as stupid as that idea is, a very large fraction of moderns cling to it with childlike devotion because it is a natural outgrowth of one of the most pernicious dogmas of the machine age:  that human beings are just another kind of (albeit complex) machine governed by knowable rules, and that Utopia can be achieved if we can only discover those rules and implement them thoroughly (and ruthlessly) enough.  This is the heart of “Progressive” thought:  force people (via social engineering, prohibition and criminalization) to only eat, wear, watch, read, hear, say, do and think what “experts” have decided is “good” for them, and the Millennium will arrive on the very next high-speed train.

The problem with this is that it’s 99 44/100%  pure bullshit.  Human beings are not Skinner’s programmable modules, social interactions are incredibly complex and most “experts” aren’t even qualified to make decisions for their dogs, much less for millions of people they don’t know.  That idea that human beings can and should be governed by rigid, top-down rules designed by said “experts” has given us the Drug War, sex work prohibition, mass incarceration, mass surveillance, the nanny state, “Child Protective Services”, the “sex offender” registry, mandatory minimum sentencing, “zero tolerance” school policies and a host of similar abominations far too numerous to list.  People’s lives, like their writing styles,The Brothers Hemingway are unique, and what works for one does not necessarily work for another; by the reductionist “logic” of modern governance, Shakespeare, Cervantes and Dostoyevsky were all terrible writers because they don’t sound like Hemingway…and their works should be mercilessly edited until a mindless computer program declares them acceptable.

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[Are cops] trying to convince people that the “sex rays” from a hooker’s body radiate out through the windows of her car, causing moral degeneracy in everyone they strike?  Or maybe…that we “traffick” in drug dealers and thieves and then leave them behind when we go like irresponsible urbanites abandoning unwanted dogs in rural areas?  -  “Gateway

Wool and WaterBy March, I had been around long enough for spontaneous patterns to have started forming in the fabric of my content.  I’m not talking about the regular planned features like updates,  miscellanea and Q & A, nor about the harlotographies (this time, the Chinese pirate queen Ching Shih) and fictional interludes (“Spring Forward”), nor the holidays (this time “International Sex Workers’ Rights Day”, “Mardi Gras” and “The Vernal Equinox”).  No, what I’m talking about is the way that new columns flow organically from older ones.  Sometimes it’s simply that once I write about something, I’m naturally inclined to notice other writing about the same topic:  once I had written about prohibitionist number-inventors The Schapiro Group, it was inevitable I’d pay attention when Village Voice did the same thing (“The Soft Weapon”).  Other times, it’s because a readercapuchin monkeys of a past column makes a request for a new one (“The First Time”), or there are so many questions they need a full column to answer (the two-part “Jill Brenneman Q & A”).  Sometimes it’s another writer who notices something I’ve written and links back to it, thus drawing my attention to that article (“Cognitive Impairment”), and sometimes I notice another writer’s work and open up a dialogue which has a measurable effect on my blog thereafter (“How Old is Oldest?”).

dog-drinking-waterThough none of the columns from that March were the kind of blockbusters which still occupy the top of my page-view rankings three years later, quite a few of them introduced topics which still pop up often in the TW3 columns (and thus have titles which may sound very familiar).  “A Moral Cancer” (my first column on crypto-moralism), “Check Your Premises” (the absurd contradictions inherent in prohibitionist claims), “The Scarlet Letter” (extrajudicial shame-based punishments), and “Backwards into the Future” (countries with poor human rights records surpassing the US in sex worker rights) all fall into this category.  Still other cover topics you’ll certainly recognize, even if the titles are unfamiliar: power-mad anti-sex politicians (“Legislators Gone Wild”), politicians sending out unsolicited “selfies” to strange women (“Thinking with the Wrong Head”), the danger of BDSM activities with unstable partners (“He Said, She Said”), the “condoms in porn” saga (“Actual Working Knowledge”), gay rights advocates throwing sex workers under the bus (“A Little Help from Our Friends”), the way sex work prohibition hurts all women (“Man’s Inhumanity to Whores”), the weird arse-backward rhetoric of prohibitionists (“Backward, Turn Backward”),danger wear goggles sign the obfuscatory language used by cops to hide the truth (“Recognizing Doubletalk”), and the inability of heterosexual male prostitutes to earn a living (“A Foregone Conclusion”) are all topics we’ve seen here again and again.

Four other posts rounded out the month: “A Short Glossary of Prohibitionism” should be self-explanatory; “Savaging” compares neofeminist behavior to that of domestic sows who devour their own young; “Gateway” looks at the pretense that victimless activities of which moralists disapprove must be banned because they supposedly “lead to” other, actually harmful activities; and “Godwin’s Law”, which I consider one of my best essays, explains why Nazi analogies are sometimes entirely appropriate. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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If a patron buys from an artist who needs money (needs money to buy tools, time, food), the patron then makes himself equal to the artist; he is building art into the world; he creates.  -  Ezra Pound

Lorenzo di Medici by Raphael (c 1518)In days of yore, artists tried to attract patrons; that is, noblemen or other wealthy individuals who would give them money to live on.  The artist was expected to produce poems or paintings or concerti or whatever for the patron, and the rest of the time (barring the occasional cathedral ceiling or requiem mass) was left to putter on his own to produce Great Things; the best patrons required little in return for their generosity, while others were more demanding.  Modern governments and corporations still give out grants, but since these are determined by bureaucratic politics or commercial considerations it isn’t really the same; these entities tend to expect certain results, and on a timetable at that, so there’s little room for the recipient to follow his own path while somebody else pays the bills.  So I’m really very lucky in having a husband who believes in my work and trusts me enough that he’s willing to pay the bills while I do my thing.  Still, he’s not a prince or a cardinal, so it would be nice to have some extra funds coming in to finish building our house and the like; I’ve therefore come up with a few ways that those of you who would like to indulge your inner Medici can do so, on a small scale.

First of all, there’s my book; if you haven’t bought a copy yet here’s your chance!  Its list price on Amazon is $15.95 US, but there’s a slight discount so it actually won’t cost you quite that much.  It’s also available for £9.95 in the UK and €11.95 in FranceGermany and Italy.  Readers in other countries will need to order it from the Amazon branch which gives them the best price and service, or directly from CreateSpace (international shipping applies); it’s also available on Kindle for $8 US.  Starting today, you’ve got another option:  you can buy an autographed copy directly from me for $25 if you live in the US, $30 if you live in Canada and $35 if you live anywhere else; the price includes shipping, which is why it’s more outside the US.  If you want an autographed copy but don’t want to pay that much (and as a thrifty soul myself I totally understand that), you can get one from me for $16 at one of the many book signings I plan to do this summer as I tour across the US.  The launch will be held at the Healthy Rhythm Community Art Gallery in Fairfield, Texas on April 17th, from 6:30-8:30 PM, but the main tour will start six weeks later at the end of May. Here’s a VERY TENTATIVE schedule; I’ll replicate this on a tour calendar page which will be updated as things change or become confirmed:

City Tentative dates
San Francisco, CA May 31st – June 4th
Los Angeles, CA June 5th–9th
Las Vegas, NV June 10th-14th
Phoenix, AZ June 15th-17th
Albuquerque, NM June 18th-20th
Denver, CO June 21st-25th
Oklahoma City, OK June 26th-28th
Dallas, TX June 29th-July 3rd
Kansas City July 5th-7th
St. Louis, MO July 8th-10th
Memphis, TN July 11th-13th
Nashville, TN July 14th-16th
Cincinnati, OH July 17th-19th
Chicago, IL July 20th-24th
Pittsburgh, PA July 25th-29th
Albany, NY July 30th-August 1st
Boston, MA August 2nd-5th
New York, NY August 6th-10th
Philadelphia, PA August 11th-13th
Washington, DC August 14th-17th
Raleigh, NC August 18th-20th
Charleston, SC August 21st-23rd
Atlanta, GA August 24th-26th
Tampa, FL August 27th-31st
New Orleans, LA September 2nd-6th

And that brings us to another way you can help me.  Since my book was self-published, I don’t have the resources of a publishing company to organize events; if you live in any of these cities or even within a couple of hours’ drive of them, I would love your advice and input about events I should attend, places that would like to host a book signing or have me speak, etc.  If you own or manage a business or organization and would like to hold an event for me, please contact me ASAP so we can work out the details; if you aren’t the boss but still think you could arrange it, let me know that too!  I want to meet as many of my readers as possible and attend as many events as possible so this tour will be a success.

money in garterFinally, there’s one more new avenue of patronage:  in the right-hand column under the calendar and subscription button, you’ll see a new box labeled “Become a Blog Patron”.  I’ve created four different subscription levels: 10¢ per day ($36.50 annually), 25¢ per day ($7.75 monthly), 50¢ per day ($15.50 monthly), and $1 per day ($31.00 monthly).  If you want to make a one-time donation, just click on the button of the amount you want to give, wait for it to clear your bank or credit card and then click on “unsubscribe” so it won’t draft again.  If you prefer to give me a gift instead of cash, you can get something from my Amazon wish list.  And pretty soon I’ll be opening up an auxiliary web page with other merchandise like T-shirts and coffee mugs, so keep your eyes out for that.

As I’ve said before with regard to my wish list, I do not ever expect my readers to give me anything or pay for me to write; this blog was not intended as a commercial venture, and it never will be.  I will never carry any advertising, and soon I’ll be upgrading my WordPress package so you won’t see any ads from them, either.  There is nothing I hate more than seeing winking, flashing, jumping bullshit slathered all over a web page, and I will never subject my readers to that.  But many readers have asked how they can help, and many have been generous with gifts; many have urged me to write books and install a donate button.  So if you can afford to show your appreciation in a concrete way and would like to do so, now you can; if you can’t or prefer not to, that’s fine too.  This blog is my art and my calling, not a business, and I think of anything y’all choose to send as gifts, not fees or earnings.  All I ask is that you spread the word if you like my work; anything more is strictly optional, and totally at your discretion.  I appreciate all my faithful readers, because every day y’all reward my work with the gift of your time and attention.

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It’s a little known fact that as Emily Wilding Davison threw herself under the King’s horse during the 1913 Derby her last words were, “I hope that sometime in the next 100 years, someone introduces a product that makes a woman’s labia pinker.  That’s really what I’m doing all this for.”  -  Jake

If you live in the United States and noticed that you got the notification for this post an hour later than usual, it’s because starting today by government decree your clocks will lie to you about the time until early November.  Everyone else in the world should continue getting the notice at the same time until your clocks either start or stop lying to you (depending on what hemisphere you’re in) sometime in the next few weeks.  If you’re outside the US and the time was wrong anyhow, it undoubtedly has something to do with however WordPress has the change set up.  Got it?  I honestly wish we’d dispense with the unholy mess, which costs the US roughly $2 billion per year (and even more since Congress extended it in 2007, putting us out of synch with Europe and Asia).  Nor does that count the cost in lives and property damage from the increased number of accidents on the Monday following the change, especially in the spring.  Anyhow, in keeping with the theme of this rant I present “Destino”, a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali which was mostly done in 1946, then shelved and never finished until 2003.  It’s very strange and very beautiful, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  The second video is the first American television commercial for cannabis, but almost certainly not the last; it was contributed by Rick Horowitz.  The links down to the first video are a mixed bag; Lenore Skenazy gave us “never call”, “rules” and “kangaroo”; Michael Whiteacre gave us “birthday party”, Radley Balko contributed “mother”, and I found “kayaking” and “masochism” myself.  Those between the videos were provided by Radley, my cat, ManCrack, ClarissaKate Zen, Dean Clark, Kevin Wilson, and EconJeff (in that order).

From the Archives

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If ignorance about sex is grounds for a court order forbidding it, neofeminists and religious fundamentalists need to start worrying.  -  February Updates (Part Two)

Josie Arlington's TombBy February I had settled into a groove.  Though I still posted each column just after eating breakfast (a habit I maintained until the end of July), I had a buffer of prepared columns I could intersperse with newer items so as to avoid being caught unprepared as I sometimes was in the first few months.  Patterns which were to last for a very long time (some to the present day) were well-established:  the month had two holiday columns (“Imbolc” and “Valentine’s Day”), a harlotography (“Josie Arlington”), a fictional interlude (“Carnival”), and the two-part “February Updates”, and “February Q & A” closed it out.  There was also a miscellanea column named “John Law” because all of its items were about cops; somehow I forgot the title “February Miscellanea”, which did not appear until literally the day before the debut of “That Was the Week That Was” the following February.

brides of DraculaThanks to the fact that my columns debunking “sex trafficking” hysteria (especially the “gypsy whores” myth) catching the attention of reporters (as detailed in “Maggie in the Media”), the blog was growing fast; despite only having 28 days, February saw almost twice as many visits as January.  With so much of my time focused on the Dallas Super Bowl hype, it’s no wonder there were so many columns on it this month.  In “Don’t Buy It” I linked many resources debunking previous iterations of the myth; in “Life Imitates Artifice” I pointed out that the one single pimp arrested around the event admitted to getting the idea from the hype,Book Illustration Depicting Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in a Train Cabin and in “See How Well It Works?” I mocked the ludicrous excuses Texas “authorities” offered for the utter and complete failure of their apocalyptic predictions.  I further attacked them in “Coming and Going”, but that actually had nothing to do with the Super Bowl; strangely, a map showing Texas counties made that column my most often visited one for that entire year.

Nova Scotia adMy new popularity began to attract the attention of neofeminists, one of whom came by to lie (“Misrepresentation”) in an attempt to sell the vile Swedish model (which I also discussed in “A Distorted Lens” and “The Swedish Disease Spreads”).  But while “Bedelia” represented herself as a “survivor” of coerced prostitution and pretended that all sex workers share her experience, just two weeks after her appearance I presented a four-part interview with Jill Brenneman, who was actually a coerced teen prostitute, yet understands that her experience was extremely unusual and that criminalization makes situations like hers far worse (three of the ways criminalization harms sex workers are detailed in “To Protect and Serve”, “Not the Same Tree” and “Crime Against Society”).  And the month was rounded out with “Between the Ears” (why there is no chemical “cure” for low female sex drive); “Real People” (realistic media portrayals of sex workers); “Not an Addiction” (a debunking of “sex addiction”); “An Educated Idiot” (my first column on the unethical and incompetent Sudhir Venkatesh); and the self-explanatory “Old Men and Young Women”. Lupercalia

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When the newspapers have got nothing else to talk about, they cut loose on the young.  -  Kenneth Rexroth

goofy woman swinging hammerAs I’ve written before, all prohibitionism is the same:  some object, substance or activity is depicted as intrinsically harmful  regardless of context or actual outcome, a connection to children is invented if one does not exist, and the prohibitionists then argue that any abrogation of personal liberty (no matter how invasive) and any expansion of the police state (no matter how destructive, evil and counterproductive) is justified to stop the threat to Our Treasured Way of Life.  Moral panics involving young people are basically interchangeable as well: parents discover their (usually biologically adult) offspring doing something unfamiliar; overreact; imagine all sorts of horrible consequences that probably didn’t actually happen; insist that someone else induced their perfect, innocent little angel to do this horrible thing; and then pretend that it’s a “growing problem” because they refuse to believe that Johnny or Suzie might be unusual in any (bad) way.  The penultimate item in that list will likely be embraced by the young person in an attempt to eschew responsibility, and the ultimate is amplified by the Law of the Instrument:  once the outraged parent is armed with this shiny new hammer, suddenly nails in need of pounding start appearing all over the place.  The interesting thing is that it makes no difference whether the behavior might conceivably pose genuine risks or if it’s completely harmless:  the parent’s moral outrage, lack of rational thought and unwillingness to accept parental responsibility for the youth’s mistakes are the drivers of the panic, not any genuine assessment of danger.

What made me think of this was the development of two moral panics in the same week and just a few hundred kilometers apart:  the one which started in Nova Scotia involved a behavior which could pose real risks, while the one which started in Rhode Island was mere juvenile foolishness, yet the reactions to the two and the development of the panic were essentially interchangeable. Let’s start with the Nova Scotia case:

A Halifax mother is on a quest to stop underage prostitution…after discovering her daughter was appearing on classified sites with near-nude images of herself…A CBC News investigation reveals that the problem of underage prostitution is growing, and police are seeing more girls — some as young as 13 — being exploited…Karen said she learned that there are many girls — at least 40 — in the area selling their bodies for sex…Her daughter says she’s out of it, but that isn’t enough for Karen…Fiona Traynor is chair of the board at Stepping Stone, an outreach organization for sex workers based in Halifax.  She said some young girls may be hesitant to come forward because service providers [are legally required]…to report any [underage sex worker to the cops, which] puts a barrier between offering services and being in conflict with the law…

Now, even as a whore who fully supports both a woman’s right to harlotry and a biological adult’s right to do as she pleases with her own body, I can understand a mother getting upset over discovering that her daughter was doing full-fledged sex work with ads and all.  We aren’t told how old the girl was (I’m going to guess 16 because if she were any younger the reporter would have been sure to mention it), but it’s pretty clear she was pretty damned careless to use an ad in which she could be recognized by the person who ratted her out to Mom.  Anyone that careless isn’t ready for professional-level sex work; she should have stuck to dating college guys she could hit up for cash.  Furthermore, given all the prohibitionist disinformation flying about nowadays, it’s unsurprising that the mother had a conniption.  But that’s not actually what’s at issue here; the problem is that after resolving the situation with her daughter to her satisfaction, she has taken it upon herself to harass, endanger and sic the cops on other people she does not know, waving her ignorance as a flag while charging wildly across an imaginary battlefield bellowing that oft-heard cri de guerre, “FOR THE CHIIIIILDREEEEEENNNNN!!!!”  And the reporter, rather than investigating the facts, reports the whole thing without a trace of skepticism, larding the account with the usual Copspeak and silly dysphemisms.

Now, here’s the one from Rhode Island:

A middle school in Portsmouth, R.I. recently sent parents an alarming e-mail about kids who are “snorting” or “smoking” Smarties, a silly fad in which kids grind up the tart candy into a fine powder, then blow out the vapor as if they were smoking…Yet everyone is worried. Portsmouth School Committee Chair Dave Croston asserts that the fad “would not be normal behavior” (God forbid!), and raises the “troubling issue of modeling.”  That is, kids who pretend to smoke today will become smokers later.  The warning sent to parents also cautions that the act may be a “precursor to future cigarette smoking and drug use.”  I don’t know of any empirical data to support that contention…in 2009, a Wall Street Journal article on [a previous iteration of] the alleged trend quoted a Mayo Clinic physician who warned that the act could lead to something called nose maggots.  That was also mentioned in the warning to Portsmouth parents.  Local blogger John McDaid  interviewed that doctor, who conceded that he’d never actually seen a case of “nose maggots” from Smarties, only that it was a possibility.  Nevertheless, the fallout from these panics has already led to suspensions of students across the country  for improper ingestion of a confectionery…

smoking SmartiesThese parents and teachers, their heads full of drug-war propaganda and “social construction” idiocy, go off exactly the same way as the Nova Scotia mother, despite the relative harmlessness of the observed behavior; when McDaid sent the story to CBS, they turned it into a scare story which called it a “dangerous activity” and included an interview with a loon who not only said it could be fatal, but also opined that “children who engage in this behavior may need a mental health evaluation from a medical professional.”  I agree that somebody needs a mental health evaluation, but it isn’t kids playing a silly game.  Fortunately, because of the internet we are no longer at the mercy of big media corporations selling panic for a fast buck; there are plenty of writers challenging the “sin, fear and crime” mold into which the mainstream outlets try to force any story about behavior which isn’t mind-numbingly conformist.  Here’s what a skeptical blogger had to say about the “quest to stop underage prostitution”:

A teenage girl becomes involved in sexual activity that most grownups, regardless of their own sexual behaviour as teens, find shocking and horrific…the distraught…parents construct a frame…[which] invariably posits the existence of a large but hitherto unacknowledged social problem that explains how a good child falls into bad situations…a journalist…[publicizes the] salacious…story…in which digital media are implicated…and…police are interviewed…[they] call for greater resources…and…powers…to deal with the putative trend…In extreme cases, this unholy coalition will propel politicians to pass hastily contrived, ill-thought-out legislation giving authorities over-broad powers to address problems that may or may not exist.

Some say the internet is killing the traditional media, and when I compare the way they handle stories like this to the way alternative sources like bloggers do, I must say that their death isn’t coming quickly enough to suit me.

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Public Conversation

That which chiefly causes the failure of a dinner-party, is the running short—not of meat, nor yet of drink, but of conversation.  -  Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded

mountain of paperAs I’ve explained on a number of occasions, I’ve been slowly decreasing my workload over time so as to make room for other projects like Ladies of the Night, my Cato Unbound essays  from December and my Reason article of January 26th (not to mention public appearances and private life).  One of the sacrifices I’ve had to make is the time devoted to correspondence; as I explained in “Inspiration”:

…I still read every single comment y’all post and every single email y’all send, but all too often I find myself so busy that I put off replying until later, and then I can never catch up.  And when those comments contain praise and/or good wishes, I feel rather ungrateful and rude for not replying…like a lazy bride who can’t be bothered to do her thank-you notes.  So though I’m still going to spend as much time giving personal responses as I possibly can…please don’t take it personally if I don’t reply directly to your comment, or if I take a few days to respond to your email; it just means that I’m tied up with work or circumstances.  I sincerely appreciate every single reader who takes the time to send me kind words or encouragement, even when I don’t reply…

The latest modifications (made as we entered this new year) should allow me to answer emails a little more quickly, within a week rather than taking several weeks as it did for most of last year.  When I can answer an email with a quick sentence or two you may get a reply very quickly, but when a long letter is needed it may take until the following Sunday (or in some cases, longer).

For a while now, though, I’ve noticed something: some readers will write me emails commenting on specific columns instead of just directly commenting on the columns themselves; I’d like to ask those of you who do that to try to start commenting on the blog instead.  One of the reasons is, as I explained above, the time delay in answering emails; even if you’re a new contributor, once your comment gets through moderation you’ll at least know that I read it even if I don’t reply right away (or at all).  Another reason is that if you have a question about something in that post, one of the other readers may be able to answer it for you long before I have the opportunity.  If you have a disagreement or gripe about something I wrote, putting it in public will allow others to agree or disagree with you, setting up a lively discussion which, I feel, adds to the blog.  I understand that some people are more in the habit of emailing than commenting, while others dread the awfulness that characterizes the comment sections of most websites.Never Read the Comments  But I truly feel as though I have the best commentariat on the web today, and that’s not just blowing sunshine up anybody’s arse; I have an unusually-high fraction of intelligent, thoughtful, knowledgeable and even erudite commenters, and though the discussions may get warm they rarely stray outside the bounds of civil discourse.  If you’ve never commented before, please don’t be afraid to; getting started is easy, and though your first comment is automatically held for moderation by WordPress until I see and approve it (usually within a few hours), your subsequent ones will post as soon as you make them (barring some kind of technical glitch).  Though I do have a few house rules, they’re mostly common sense; if you’re the combative or trollish sort you may wish to consult “How Not To Get Your Comments Posted” before wasting your time, but if you’re like 99.9% of the folks who come here you don’t really need to (though it may amuse you to do so).

Of course, if you have a private question, want to send me a link, etc, your emails are still completely welcome; that’s why I have the links in the right-hand column, after all.  But if what you have to say might be of interest to other readers as well, please consider a comment; for the reasons I’ve explained here, that will probably work out better for everyone.

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I refuse to replace perfectly good words with ugly, cumbersome, polysyllabic abortions which are designed to obscure the truth with a cloak of vagueness, or to clutter good English sentences with a host of qualifiers, de-intensifiers, weasel-words and apologetics intended to sap the strength of the text like a school of lampreys attached to a shark.  -  “New Year’s Day

Girls in ChainsJanuary of 2011 was a transitional month for this blog.  I was still only writing a little in advance, and an unexpected event like an illness could leave me flat-footed; hence the rather disorganized “What’s the Buzz?” (in which I clearly state that I’m still manually posting columns rather than scheduling them, a practice I didn’t start until August 1st of that year).  “Gilda” was one of the last biographies of someone I knew personally, and “Hello, Dolly!” the last of a non-harlot in the harlotography slot; other than the still-undeveloped way I was organizing the miscellanea columns (“January Miscellanea”, “January Updates” and “Holiday Leftovers”) and the absence of some features that came along later, the blog otherwise looked much like it does today.  As I mentioned last month, most of the columns from this period even read like my current style, and several (notably “Welcome To Our World”) are frequently linked in TW3 columns.

Big BirdThis month also marked the first appearance of a number of people and things that would later become regular topics.  “Dog Bites Man”, “Social Autoimmune Disorder” and “Harm Reduction” introduced concepts I would revisit often, as did “Creating Criminals” (universal criminality); then “Doublethink”, “Grow the Hell Up!” and “Convenient and Inconvenient Victims” all looked at the trend toward redefining whores as victims.  And though I had looked at “sex trafficking” hysteria before, there were several landmarks: “Acting and Activism” saw the first appearance of “trafficking” buffoons Mira Sorvino, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher; “A Manufactured War” was my first attack on CNN, “Aggressive Ignorance” my first full-scale mockeryThermopylae of rescue industry organizations, and “Numerology” my first full-scale debunking of the numerical myths.  The latter column also provided my first huge surge in traffic when Radley Balko linked it on The Agitator a week later.  The post still draws quite a few visitors, but not as many as my expose on “Ashley Madison”, which is my second-most-viewed post of all time.

12th Night Revellers invitation 1884Of course, there were already some regular features by this time; besides “January Q & A” and a fictional interlude (“The Specialist”), there were the miscellanea and harlotography columns.  The month’s holidays were “New Year’s Day”, “Twelfth Night” and “King Day”, and though “January Second” isn’t a holiday, it got its own column nonetheless.  Rounding out the month were “The Cold, Grey Light of Dawn” (in which the truth begins to dawn on some prohibitionist sympathizers); “Born, Not Made” (could there be a “hooker gene”?); “Walking Stereotype Sues Whore” (self-explanatory); “Shifting the Blame” (“authorities” pretend Long Island killings are the fault of someone other than the murderer); and “Wild Guessing” (a two-part vivisection of yet another ersatz prohibitionist “study”). Gotham skyline

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Who learns most from a good book is the author.  -  José Bergamín

Ladies of the Night coverY’all have been pushing me for a book for a while now, and I’ve been talking about it for even longer, but at last the day is nigh!  As I think I’ve mentioned in print somewhere, I plan to do two books, one of fiction and one of nonfiction.  And given that I’m new to the whole self-publishing thing, I decided to do the fiction volume first because that way the “front end” would be easy, allowing me to concentrate on the “back end”; in other words, since most of the stories were already written I wouldn’t have to generate much new content and could devote my attention to all the details of actually preparing the product.  Now that I’ve learned how to do all that (and set up the infrastructure to manage the business end), that aspect will be relatively easy next time and I’ll be able to concentrate on writing the composite essays necessary for the nonfiction volume.

There was also a bit of strategy involved in releasing the books in this order.  There are two main reasons for writing books rather than just blogging:  first, to make money; and second, to expose a wider audience to my ideas.  And I believe both of those can be maximized by doing a volume of fiction first.  Stories are more accessible than essays; one might say they have a lower entry threshold, and many people who would never pick up a book of essays by an author they’ve never heard of will happily buy a book of stories by the same person just because the description seems interesting or they like the cover art.  If they enjoy those stories, at least some of them are likely to buy a future essay book with the same name on it, and even if they don’t ever give my nonfiction as much as a glance they’ll have been exposed to the central theme of most of my writing, both fiction and nonfiction: whores are not a special “type” of person, but rather just people like anyone else.

Since most of the content of this volume is already available for free on this site, I wanted to give the readers who choose to buy one something special.  So not only did I write a new, longer-than-usual story for the collection which will not appear online, but I also wanted to have some top-notch cover art (I also figure an attractive cover will get more attention).  Accordingly, I asked friend and regular reader Chester Brown (creator of Paying For It, Louis Riel and many others) if he’d do me the honor, and as you can see the result is magnificent (and you may recognize the model).  As for the format and design of the book itself, I hope you’ll find it adequate; if not, one of the advantages of self-publishing for the reader is that he knows exactly who to blame!  The official release date is Wednesday, but it still may take a few days for it to pop up in Amazon searches.  You’ll be able to buy it four different ways:  First, as an e-book; second, as a paper book; third, in an autographed copy mailed directly to you from my own stock (this will cost just a little extra because of the handling and all); and fourth, from me at a book signing, of which I plan to have as many as possible this year (and will inform you of as they come up).  With any luck the book will sell well enough to attract the attention of a conventional publisher, but even if it doesn’t I plan to keep releasing new ones at least once per year or so in the future.  Wish me luck!

UPDATE:  You can now buy the book on Amazon for $15.95 US; it’s also available on Kindle for $8 US, but the autograph option (for which I’ll probably charge $30 US, with free shipping) may still be a few weeks yet. It’s also available for £9.95 in the UK and €11.95 in France, Germany and Italy.  Readers in other countries will need to order it from the Amazon branch which gives them the best price and service, or directly from CreateSpace (international shipping applies), or from me once that option becomes available in March.

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