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Diary #233

I’m slowly getting my head back into the necessary space for catching up on my work, but it hasn’t been easy; Monday and Tuesday last week were largely occupied with car-buying tasks, Wednesday was dominated by shopping and Thursday and Friday involved a lot of long-overdue house cleaning in preparation for company.  One rather nice thing about the latter task is that I keep running into things I had either misplaced or forgotten about, including my long-lost nested screwdriver set, a nice coil of poly rope and a brand-new corset still in the bag from the lingerie shop (and purchased how long ago, I have no idea).  Maybe this will inspire me to clean up more often…but somehow, I doubt it.

Last Tuesday brought me two great pleasures:  the first was being my friend Rachel Mills‘ guest* on the very first episode of her brand-new podcast, Liberty After Dark; the second was discovering (after I got off the phone) a rather large donation from the ever-generous Dan O’Connell, enough to pay the taxes on my touring car and also have it fully checked out and tuned up by my mechanic.  Given that I had depleted my account completely, it was a great relief!  I also received two Christmas presents already; Kevin Wilson sent me The Kingdom (series one) and Daz sent The Omega Factor (which I want to see due to the presence of Louise Jameson, who played one of my favorite companions in Doctor Who).  Some of my readers have gently chided me for letting my Amazon wishlist become depleted; they’ll be glad to know I’ve restocked it a bit.  But if you’d rather not try to figure out which thing to get me for Christmas, a donation to my activist work is always nice!  Just PayPal any amount you like to maggiemcneill@earthlink.net, or you can subscribe using the buttons at right to make small, regular donations.

*I was Rachel’s guest in person when I visited North Carolina; it was she who took the cheesecake pictures I’ve been sharing in this feature lately.

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Unfolding

Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.  –  Max Frisch

unfolding roseAnd so the time has come for another change in the way I do things.  This one is not so much an alteration as an unfolding; it’s a continuation of a process which has been going on practically since the beginning of this blog.  When I first realized that there were far too many news items to possibly write full essays about, I instituted update and miscellanea columns; within a few months these were appearing once per month each, and contained anywhere from three to a half-dozen items each.  But time marched on and my news-gathering procedures  improved, and soon both the miscellanea and the updates were multi-part affairs; clearly a change was needed, so I started publishing the news weekly, and “That Was the Week That Was” was born.  The feature has continued for three years now, but it’s beginning to show signs of strain, and is therefore in need of refurbishment.  For one thing, each installment carries so many items (often over 20) that I find readers are beginning to miss some of them; for another, my greatly-expanded travel schedule has made it quite difficult to get the columns done on time while I’m on the road (#447 was finally done a mere 45 minutes before it was scheduled to post).  And so, the unfolding process must continue; as the news went from a monthly feature to a several-times-monthly feature to a weekly feature to a huge weekly feature with several supplemental ones per year, so now it must become a semi-weekly feature.  As of the beginning of the new year, there will be two news columns per week, Wednesday and Saturday; the current Wednesday feature, reader questions, will now appear on Thursday instead.  This new arrangement has several advantages:  it will make the columns shorter, causing less information overload for readers; it will allow me to feature breaking items in a more timely fashion; it will save me time, since the work that once created one column will now create two; and it will make it much easier for me to get the columns done on time, since their lengths will be more flexible.  Obviously, I can’t call a twice-weekly feature “That Was the Week That Was” any more, so from here on out it will be named “In the News”; the numbering system will continue, because with four columns pre-empted by holidays per year that gives me exactly 100 columns per year.  Some of you may not like the new system (with its concomitant loss of 48 full-length essays a year), but I think most of you will.  And less work for me means both more time for extra-blog writing and activism, plus more time for myself and my loved ones; given that some of you have been nagging me about that subject for years, I think you’ll agree it’s a good thing.

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Diary – Week 232

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo last Tuesday I went to look at that car, which turned out to fit the bill; it was a little more downscale than I wanted but also five years younger than I expected, so I think it was a good trade-off.  I put a down payment on it that day, then paid the rest and took it home yesterday.  It’s in excellent shape, low mileage for its age and has the features I want; it’s also supposed to get 35 MPG, but that remains to be seen when I take it for its first long road trip.  I got it for about 2/3 of the book value, but that still meant draining my business account and throwing in about $200 of my own money; if you’d like to help replace that and pay for the taxes and insurance (or just want to start building up my war chest again), please PayPal any amount you like to maggiemcneill@earthlink.net, and thank you!

On the blogging front, I seem to have pulled out of my slump and I’m catching up again; by the time I go to bed tonight I should have the advance work for next week done, and by Friday night I should have Christmas week all sewn up.  With any luck, I should have the first week of January prepped before Jae gets here for the holidays on the 23rd, and that’s good because I think it’s awfully rude to work too much when one has a guest.  Oh, and speaking of guests: I’m going to be Rachel Mills‘ first one on her new podcast!  We’re recording tonight, and I’ll let you know next week where you can hear it.

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Diary – Week 231

After all my many travels, I’m home again at last, but it’s been even more difficult this time to get back to the old grind.  When I returned home in September it only took me a few days to get back to work, and within two weeks I had restored my normal lead.  But this time was different; Seattle was such a powerful and transformative experience for me in so many ways that my mind has been busy processing it all, and with the Thanksgiving holiday on top of that I’ve had my hands full just keeping current (much less getting ahead).  Don’t worry, I’m not going to disappoint you; there will still be new columns every day for the foreseeable future.  However, it’s become obvious to me that I need to tweak my procedures a little more so as to free up more time.  In addition to more travel in the coming year and working on a new book (which will be all-new content), I’m going to be spending much more time on behind-the-scenes activism and pursuing a couple of new business ventures; several dear friends have also succeeded in convincing me of the necessity for taking more time out for (*gasp*) myself.  Look for a post in a couple of weeks detailing how it’s going to work, but I’ll tell you right now that it’s nothing more than a slight extension of a process that’s been going on since the beginning of 2012.

My first scheduled trip of the new year will be a return to Seattle to fulfill some commitments I made while there last month; I plan to do this in the touring car I mentioned last week.  So far y’all have given me almost $1000 toward the purchase, and today I’m out looking at a very likely candidate so if you haven’t yet donated and can afford to, please do as soon as you can!  I want to buy it ASAP so there’s no rush in having it checked over and prepared for the trip, which will be in the late winter (or early spring, depending on how you figure it).  Just send whatever amount you like to maggiemcneill@earthlink.net and be sure to note that it’s for the car.  Please be sure to get the address correct; I’ve had a couple of donations go awry due to incorrect addresses.  That’s it for now, but I’ll keep you posted as things develop!

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Back Issue: November 2011

My gifts and abilities are mine to be used as pleases me; they are not for others to command or control, and only I determine which of them I’m willing to trade on, and when and how they will be employed.
–  “The Logical Song

fetishes demotivationalAs the end of 2011 approached, my procedures slowly began to shift toward those I have used for two years now.  The number of miscellaneous news items had grown so large it had become impractical to hold them for only one feature per month; since “November Updates” appeared in three parts and was supplemented by “Further Developments“, I could easily have organized them into four weekly columns instead and started to do so only three months later.  In “October Q&A” I had also announced that I would answer questions more regularly than once per month, but somehow that took another year to happen.  In a bigger sense, though, the pattern had already been established; the essays from this period read very much like those I write today in style, length, tone, etc.

mad scientistOne of the things I had learned was that the hardest part of doing a daily blog is figuring out something new to write about every day; it’s why the blog has become so much more structured as time has gone on.  As of the day I write this I could already tell you what type of column (though obviously not the subject) will appear on more than half of the days in the first seven months of 2015, and though that wasn’t nearly so true three years ago I was clearly headed that way.  Besides the miscellanea, fictional interlude (“Bad News”) and harlotography (“Veronica Franco“) columns, this month featured special essays for the Day of the Dead (“Saint Death“), Guy Fawkes’ Day (“Revolution“), the USMC “birthday” (“Semper Fidelis“), Armistice Day (“Collaboration Horizontale“), “Thanksgiving” and the beginning of the Yuletide season (“Toys for Tots“).  However, the “One Year Ago Today” feature didn’t produce many sequels this time around; only “Gorged With Meaning“, “It’s That Time Again” and “The Law of Averages” fit into that category, and all of them would have to have been written anyway.  That last is an extended debunking of the “average debut at 13″ myth; many more “child prostitute” lies are refuted in “Water Seeks Its Own Level“.

platypusThe observant will recognize an unusually-large number of the titles from this month; many of them  persist as subheadings in TW3 columns, some very commonly. “Forward and Backward“, “See No Evil“, “Schadenfreude” and “Follow Your Bliss” appear quite frequently, and “Across the Pond” did until a year ago.  And though “Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong” and “Divided We Fall” aren’t nearly as ubiquitous, both have been used in the past few months.

LolitaThere are always a few columns which defy easy categorization in these retrospectives; this time there are seven.  “TANSTAAFL” looks at an example of the adage, “if it seems to good to be true, it probably is”; “Maier’s Law” does the same for “if the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.”  “If I Can’t Sell It…” is another collection of whore songs, and “The Logical Song” a look at how the titular hit described my own experiences.  “Eglimaphilia” discusses sex work clients who fetishize the illegality of prostitution, while “Big Sister” discusses Swedish model vigilantes in Iceland.  And “Don’t Confuse Us With Facts” examines the bizarre belief that people can somehow be magically “harmed” by electronically-generated pictures that they didn’t even know existed. God kills kittens

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Whenever an obviously well founded statement is made…by a person specially well acquainted with the facts, that unlucky person is instantly and frantically contradicted by all the people who obviously know nothing about it.  –  George Bernard Shaw

A few months ago a reader asked if I’d grown less patient than I used to be, and I replied that while I certainly hoped I was no less patient with good readers and people who genuinely want my help, “I’ve never been patient with fools, trolls, ninnies, sophists, fanatics and the other assorted riff-raff who attempt to lay claim to my time and energy.”  Well, I need to add one more type to that list; I’m afraid I no longer have any patience with people who refuse to understand that the plural of anecdote is not data.  Now, my forbearance for such well-meaning but ignorant folks was never exactly Penelopean to start with; even as a teenager statements like, “well, my grandpa smoked his whole life and he lived to a hundred” set my nerves on edge, and in July I published a whole column about people who think that one exception invalidates an entire rule.  But lately, I’ve found that my immediate response to comments declaring that I must be wrong about such-and-such because the commenter knows of an exception (which she then proceeds to relate without any corroboration) is to immediately trash it.

This doesn’t quite rise to the level of a new rule; one of the suggestions in “How Not To Get Your Comments Posted” was, “Pretend to be more knowledgeable in my subject than I am without offering any proof whatsoever.“  I suppose that the assertion, “my cousin’s friend is a hooker in Chicago and everybody she knows has a pimp”, doesn’t quite qualify as no proof whatsoever, but neither does it reach the level of credibility required to cause me to rethink four years of research.  No, I don’t have a PhD, nor have I done field trials in two dozen cities involving hundreds of respondents.  But you know what?  Neither have the prohibitionists.  And unlike them or some anonymous person’s cousin’s friend from Chicago, I have spoken to or corresponded with hundreds of sex workers and read dozens of methodologically-sound studies in addition to actually being a hooker for years, so please don’t think me vainglorious if I trust my own judgment over theirs.

I’m sure someone will accuse me of simply not wanting to be challenged; please give me a little credit.  Not only am I quite aware of exceptions to hooker norms, I even feature them in TW3 or other columns when I encounter them.  But there’s a vast difference between “20 witnesses saw such-and-such and here’s the video” and “you just have to believe me”; or between “what do you think about this unusual circumstance?” and “no you’re TOTALLY WRONG because a prohibitionist said so”; or between odd but well-documented phenomena and outrageous claims which violate the laws of physics or stretch the limits of human credulity.  Furthermore, reputation helps; when someone who’s been commenting here for months or years and impressed me with his good sense and veracity tells me something, I’m a hell of a lot more likely to give credence to what he says than to a newcomer whose very first act on this blog is to make some outlandish statement in the most belligerent tone possible.  If you’re spoiling for an argument or seeking converts for your prohibitionist cult, I suggest you try posting your comment on YouTube or Huffington Post, because it’s highly unlikely it will ever see the light of day around here.

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Diary – Week 226

TulaneI’m not sure how the hell I did it, but I managed to forget my laptop at home when I left for New Orleans last Thursday.  Remember, I’m the Princess of Paranoia; I compulsively inspect my luggage, counting each item in the car to be sure I”m not leaving anything behind.  Yet that day, my head was in some kind of fog; I didn’t notice the omission until after I had pickup up my rental car in Shreveport and was well on the way down the road.  This, of course, will make me much more paranoid in the future; the rare occasion of my actually doing whatever it is I’m worried about doing acts to reinforce the paranoia.  You can bet I will not be forgetting it when I leave for my Northwest tour a week from today!

Other than having to make do with online maintenance, though, it was a really good weekend.  On Friday morning I met my little sister for breakfast, and we had a good long talk about family stuff.  Then in the afternoon I went to the library to check my emails and Twitter, and I took my cousin Alan to dinner in the evening.  Saturday was a long day, but a fruitful one; the Students for Liberty conference was excellent and the lineup of speakers very interesting.  Some libertarian gatherings are dominated by people who seem more concerned with economic issues than anything else, but this was not one of them and the speaker lineup reflected that; the afternoon block was especially subversive, with my talk followed by Thaddeus Russell‘s and then Angela Keaton‘s a bit later.  And I can assure you that whatever trees remained unshook when Thad Russell and I were done, were entirely cleared of loose branches and leaves by the time Angela put down the mike!  After dinner there was a social, and then a house party at the organizers’ home; I borrowed Angela’s computer to finish Sunday’s “Links” column, then sat on the porch swing and fielded questions until after 1 AM.

It’s a good thing I don’t need a lot of sleep any more, because I had to get up early Sunday morning for breakfast with Thad Russell; we talked about future projects and then I took him on a short tour of the city before bringing him to the airport.  After that, Denise was kind enough to allow me the use of her computer for several hours, during which time I was able to mostly catch up on my bookkeeping (though I was behind on my Twitter blog-promotion until this morning) and write the very column you’re reading.  Then on Monday I drove home, and for the next week I’ll be busy trying to get as far ahead as I can in preparation for the next trip!  Last but not least, my sincere thanks to the readers who sent me monetary gifts over the weekend; y’all covered my entire trip to New Orleans and left some for Chicago and Seattle!  If anyone else would like to donate, just see the subscription box at right.  Your donations not only help me in the practical sense, but also let me know that y’all appreciate my efforts and think my work is important enough to support; that moral support is every bit as vital as the financial.

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