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Valentine’s Day 2016


Most Valentine’s Day pinups aren’t much better than most valentine cards, but this Gil Elvgren piece from 50 years ago is a notable exception.  The only other thing I’d like to say, I already said last year: “I don’t care much for Valentine’s Day…I like the classical Roman Lupercalia much better; dudes running around naked and hitting women with whips seems to me a much more exciting way to celebrate than being given a box of chocolates I can’t eat without worrying about my waistline.

In the News (#612)

This is like consulting the school bully on how to make the schoolyard safer.  –  anonymous Toronto resident, on consulting cops about harm reduction

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

If you’re raped by a cop, accuse him of offering to pay you for sex instead; that, they’ll fire him for:

…Fairview [Tennessee] Police Chief Terry Harris and assistant chief Mark Sutton have both been suspended…after one of their officers, Ronnie Williams, was arrested by…Nashville police in a prostitution sting…Williams was allowed to resign rather than be fired, which would be notated on his post certification possibly preventing him from going to another department…

Harm Magnification

Naturally, because it’s cops’ job to cause harm, not reduce it:

When word got out in mid-December that undercover [cops] had arrested two men accessing Toronto Public Health’s (TPH) needle exchange program…TPH’s own harm reduction workers scrambled to warn the drug user community…harm reduction workers [wondered]…Were plainclothes police riding in…mobile outreach vans?  Were they present during the highly sensitive and confidential process of rapid HIV/AIDS testing?…The Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance says police participation in the program has fractured the trust the harm reduction community has cultivated over decades with street-involved people…Zoe Dodd, a long-time harm reduction worker and community activist [said] “I don’t recall drug users ever saying they wanted -police to be involved.  This really just shows me that these agencies are more committed to their relationship with police than they are to their relationship with drug users”…

Saving Them From Themselves

Apparently, this stupid pig doesn’t think a lifetime on the “sex offender” registry is a “real severe thing”:

A Three Rivers, Michigan, teenager is both the victim and perpetrator of a sex crime.  He might land on the sex offender registry, and face criminal charges, all because he took…a nude photo of himself on a girl’s cell phone.  That girl sent the picture to another girl, who sent it to another.  Preliminary charges are pending for all three—the boy was charged with manufacturing child porn, and the girls with distributing it.  A prosecutor is still weighing whether to pursue the charges.  Police Detective Mike Mohney…[bloviated] that sexting is a serious crime because it leads to “bullying,” and “real severe things like people committing suicide or violent crimes against others because they’re so embarrassed about it”…

Scapegoats

Actually, the truth is worse.  The bill doesn’t add a new sodomy law, because Michigan never repealed its old one.  Politicians are just too spineless to repeal a blatantly-unconstitutional (an therefore unenforceable) law:

The Michigan Senate just passed a bill that makes sodomy a felony, despite the U.S. Supreme Court declaring such a law unconstitutional.  The…law…makes anal sex punishable by up to 15 years in prison…[and] is directly linked to a law against bestiality…saying…it is a felony for anyone to commit “the abominable and detestable crime against nature with mankind or with any animal”…Senator Rick Jones says [changing the wording] could put the entire bill, created to protect animals, in jeopardy.  “The minute I cross that line and I start talking about the other stuff, I won’t even get another hearing.  It’ll be done…Nobody wants to touch it.  I would rather not even bring up the topic, because I know what would happen.  You’d get…a big fight that’s not needed because it’s unconstitutional.”  Jones believes that the sodomy ban can only be repealed if a bill is created to strike all unconstitutional laws from the state’s books, but he is not willing to do it at the expense of his dog bill…

Above the Law 

US cops don’t have a monopoly on raping whores:  “David Gibson…is on trial [in] Liverpool…after [raping]…a…sex worker [under threat of arrest]“…And this other arsehole was a serial offender:

A [rapist cop] has pleaded guilty to voyeurism after secretly filming himself [raping] prostitutes – but he was cleared of stalking them.  Irshad Kamal, 47, made dozens of films between 2010 and 2012 without informing the women involved.  His video library was discovered [after he attacked a sex worker]…by tearing her clothes off and grabbing her by the throat…Kamal was arrested when she posted his details on “Ugly Mugs” – a sex industry site for dangerous punters…

Naturally, neither was charged with rape.

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

When Cheryl’s manager discovered…[she] used to work in the sex trade…he joked that a name plate on her desk read “pubic relations.”  Kayla…was in a new job too when she says a [cop] informed a colleague she had formerly been a “prostitute and a junkie.”  She lost the job and saw no option but returning to the sex industry.  Both women encountered the degrading treatment when they attempted to leave sex work for new occupations, an obstacle that a recently published study calls the “whore stigma”…The women, whose names were changed in the study to protect their identities, reported  challenges from name calling to violence, identifying the stigma they faced as the most challenging barrier to leaving the sex trade…

Checklist

Is there any profession that the fetishists don’t think requires “signs of trafficking” training?

Cosmetologists all over Ohio have begun training to spot signs of human trafficking in their clients.  The new educational push was a requirement passed by the State Cosmetology Board for licensing…Director Christopher Logsdon said when Ohio’s more than 108,000 cosmetologists are trained; they will collectively touch tens-of-thousands of lives.  “Trafficking is a reality in Ohio and Ohio agencies are engaged to train as many as possible on identifying the signs of human trafficking,” Logsdon said. “We hope and pray that one day this Human tragedy will no longer plague our state and the nation”…

Birth of a Movement (#312)

It only starts with us:

Racial profiling, arbitrary house arrests, detentions, and deportation threats—they’re all too common in France these days as part of the “state of emergency” declared to fight terrorists.  But they’ve been familiar to France’s sex workers for quite a while, which is why they have joined those fighting to try to stop an extension of what some people have called the French “Patriot Act,” only worse…Authorities may search homes and place suspects under house arrest without a judicial warrant…and the government can set curfews and forbid large demonstrations…Morgane Merteuil…joined [a protest vs the “emergency” powers] on behalf of STRASS, France’s only sex-worker-led labor union…”The state of emergency doesn’t really change things for sex workers,” [said] Merteuil…”But it’s an extension of police practices that are already in effect for certain segments of the population, including sex workers”…

Available Weapon nuisance abatement map

Weapons forged for use against whores will work on anyone:

…The nuisance abatement law was created in the 1970’s to combat the sex industry in Times Square.  Since then, its use has been vastly expanded, commonly targeting apartments and mom-and-pop bodegas even as the city’s crime rate has reached historic lows.  The NYPD files upward of 1,000 such cases a year, nearly half of them against residences…The process has remarkably few protections for people facing the loss of their homes.  Three-quarters of the cases begin with secret court orders that lock residents out until the case is resolved.  The police need a judge’s signoff, but residents aren’t notified and thus have no chance to tell their side of the story until they’ve already been locked out for days.  And because these are civil actions, residents also have no right to an attorney…residents can be permanently barred from their homes without being convicted or even charged with a crime…

Cooties

Swedes just can’t admit that whores can do things for ourselves:

Police in Stockholm say the rise of Airbnb…has resulted in pimps booking apartments by using fake profiles…growing numbers of prostitutes [use] sublet apartments to charge for sexual services…prostitutes are active at around 200 addresses on a typical day in the city, with hotels no longer their accommodation of choice…pimps [create] fake profiles of respectable couples…

Dirty Laundry (#452)

Apparently, there’s at least one decent judge in Ireland:

A judge has rejected a State application to confiscate the “hard earned” income of two prostitutes which was stolen and later recovered.  Judge Patrick McCartan…praised the courage of the two women in attempting to stop…Mantas Grazevicius…until gardaí arrived…prosecuting counsel Tony McGillicuddy BL [had tried to steal] the € 2,675…for…the state as the proceeds of prostitution…

Fallen Idol

only three months have passed since the horrifying allegations and James Deen appears to have been welcomed back with open arms…Deen walked the red carpets of the XBIZ and AVN Awards, smiling and posing as if it were business as usual…Though Deen received a whopping 33 XBIZ nominations between him and his company, the popular porn star left without a single award.  AVN was a different story.  There, at the “Oscars of Porn,” Deen was awarded two statues as part of ensembles…While prominent companies Evil Angel and Kink were applauded for cutting ties with Deen in the wake of the sexual assault allegations, the scenes he has done for them will continue to be available for purchase…As his work continues to sell, companies will be inclined to hire him.  This is the nature of the business (and reliable male performers are hard to come by)…There is a clear divide within the industry among those who believe the allegations and those who do not, but few on either side…are willing to comment publicly, since he still carries considerable weight within porn…

The Course of a Disease (#606) 

It’s always so great to see academics stand up for us in print:

…MP Fiona Bruce published an article…urging the home affairs select committee…to criminalise the purchase of sex.  Her core argument…[is] fundamentally flawed.  The laws she so vociferously calls for are likely to have disastrous consequences for the safety of sex workers…Fueled by dogmatic radical feminists and ideologues from the religious-right, anti-prostitution sentiment transcends traditional party politics…Bruce’s piece offers an oversimplified and paternalistic argument in favour of the Swedish model.  She argues that prostitution – the sale of sex between two consenting adults – represents “sexual exploitation”.  In so doing, she dismisses a wealth of evidence that many women choose to sell sex and enjoy their sex working.  It is not uncommon for advocates of the Swedish model to argue that sex workers who claim to sell sex of their own volition suffer from “false consciousness” – they hold a distorted image of their own social situation.  They are victims without knowing it…

Phantasm

There are no good numbers on where the problem exists in the first place.  –  Emily Deruy

Cyrano going to the MoonThe most fascinating and infuriating thing about belief is its ability to sustain itself by feeding on nothing other than pure faith.  No matter how little evidence there is for the existence of the cherished notion; no matter how egregiously it violates all the laws of nature, human behavior and math; no matter how ludicrous the very premise is; and no matter how many of its supporting tenets are debunked, the belief just keeps on going, held aloft by nothing other than the feelings it engenders in its adherents.  The “sex trafficking” cult is certainly no exception; its adherents gather together on lawns and highway ramps, engage in their sacred rituals like getting dressed and making paper airplanes, and mumble their profession of faith over and over again.  Cult leaders invent new nonsense “statistics” all the time, but the rank and file just content themselves with reciting the old ones like Ave Marias on a rosary and making obeisance to their sacred 13 totem.  The fact that the cops and “rescue” groups they revere can’t produce even a minuscule fraction of the millions of “victims” who crowd their lurid myths merely strengthens their faith; like Biblical literalists searching for the remains of Noah’s Ark they continue their quixotic crusades to find victims and “pimps”, and they’re never daunted by the fact that the few who turn up aren’t actually very much like the characters in their scriptures.

As I’ve reported over the past few years, the number of public figures who recognize “sex trafficking” as the moral panic it is has been slowly growing over the past couple of years, and responsible journalists like the Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler now routinely debunk the “trafficking” cult’s dogma.  But apparently, Emily Deruy of The Atlantic is not among their number; she just keeps on believing like it’s 2012 and the hysteria is still at its apex, Saint Somaly Mam has not been dethroned, the gypsy whores myth is still unquestioned and “victims” are still being claimed to have dozens or scores of clients a day.  And all this despite the fact that a simple Google search (or a search of The Atlantic’s own archives) would’ve revealed the truth about these fairy tales in mere minutes; here, Emily, let me show you an example, featuring one myth you prominently featured.  The best part?  She quotes it right below mentioning the arch-prohibitionist Polaris Project, who themselves deny the myth on their own website.  Other than that embarrassing oversight, the rest of the article is a pretty typical example of parrot-the-cops, cut-and-paste stenographic journalism of the sort one might find in any local advertising rag, albeit without the sentence fragments and idiosyncratic punctuation; the fact that it’s in a major magazine just underscores how much of a cancer this hysteria has become.

There’s one really interesting thing about the article, though it requires a bit of reading between the lines.  It’s visible in Deruy’s closing line (which appears as today’s epigram) and also in the lede: “Authorities…are finding it increasingly difficult to identify victims and perpetrators of sex trafficking.”  Deruy dutifully repeats the claims of Nevada cops and “rescue” groups, which as I’ve pointed out before are among the most aggressively stupid in the country on this subject, but in fact the inability to find “victims and perpetrators of sex trafficking” isn’t confined to Reno, or even to Nevada; it applies to the entire US, and the reason is simple:  the “sex trafficking” gravy train is the victim of its own outrageous success.  When the panic was young, cultists and cops alike could pretend that there were thousands of “victims” and “pimps” just ripe for the picking in every city, “hub” and hamlet from sea to shining sea, if only the cops had enough money and the populace had enough “awareness” of the “signs of trafficking” to catch them.  But after years of panic and hundreds of millions flushed down the “anti-trafficking” toilet, this is the typical “trafficking” bust:

The Santa Clara County Human Trafficking Task Force reports a busy time during its recent prostitution crackdown prior to Super Bowl 50…42 potential human trafficking victims were contacted during the three weeks leading up to the big game…More than half of the victims were put in direct contact with an advocate or support group and…the task force arrested or cited 30…alleged clients of possible prostitutes…one “girl” was arrested for prostitution and resisting arrest…another “girl” was cited for prostitution…four people were cited for aiding in prostitution, two were cited for loitering with intent for prostitution, one potential victim disclosed other sex crimes and kidnapping, and two human trafficking cases involved a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old from Sacramento which resulted in a human trafficking arrest…one arrest for violation of a domestic violence restraining order and three arrests for other warrants…

Vast amounts of hype, blanketing an entire metropolis with pigs, spooks and g-men, millions wasted, thousands of words of anti-whore propaganda bloviated out, and for what?  21 women were given a phone number, 30 guys were tricked by cops with fake ads, two adult and two underage sex workers were arrested, six other people were arrested on bullshit charges, and four people arrested on warrants.  The other 21 women were essentially just made up; “potential trafficking victims”?  Really?  Yeah, well every sex worker in the Bay Area is a potential police brutality and police rape victim, but I don’t see them counting that statistic.  The one “human trafficking arrest” was for a slightly-older friend of the 17-year-old; in other words she was defined as a “trafficker” because underage sex work is defined as “trafficking”, whether there is coercion or not.  Note how scarce this story is on details; they need some wriggle room so as to redefine this into “86 trafficking arrests” later on.  But even when there are details, they fail to substantiate the narrative:

I read through a case file that…details the ordeal of a 15-year-old girl, diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression, who ran away from her home…[and] soon crossed paths with a man and a woman who lured her to a hotel room. She was photographed and a classified ad, promoting her availability, was posted…men continued to show up at the hotel room, night after night, for nearly a week, until finally her mother was able to find her and secure her freedom…

A mentally ill runaway, found inside a week.  Not a happy teen abducted from her happy home and spirited into the underworld, never to be found again; even the number of clients per day, though probably still exaggerated, is “as many as 11”, a paltry number compared to the grandiose claims common from 2012 to 2014 before they started dropping last year.  And even that is a rare case; this type of report is far more common:

A missing 14-year-old girl from [the Montreal area], who was feared by her mother to have been recruited into a prostitution ring, has been found safe and sound…The girl disappeared Feb. 1 from the group home where she’d been living for the past few weeks…the girl’s  mother…said she…had reason to fear the teenager may have joined a gang or a prostitution ring in Ontario…Police would not say where the girl was, or whom she was with, when they found her…

ghost girlsNaturally they wouldn’t say, but you can bet they’d have been crowing had they “rescued” her from anybody they could’ve remotely pretended was a “pimp”.  After 12 years of panic, thousands of ruined lives, scores of new and even more tyrannical laws, badly-eroded civil liberties and unscrupulous liars enriched on tax dollars and donations from well-meaning naifs, what do the “trafficking victim” hunters have to show for their efforts?  “Potential victims”, jailed sex workers, runaways with hysterical parents, and a few petty thugs.  Yeah, Emily, it’s true that “authorities” can’t find any “victims” to rescue or villains to prosecute.  But it isn’t because “online social media has formed a beautiful platform for trafficking”, or because “pimps” are “experts at evading authorities“, or because “victims…[are] reluctant to say anything negative“, or because “pimps move victims from city to city“, or because “casinos and hotels gain customers from the practice“, or because “pimps are retreating from public view behind apps and websites“; it’s because this whole machinery of deceit, surveillance, violence and incarceration was constructed to battle a phantasm, a constellation of people, organizations and events who never existed in the forms “sex trafficking” cultists so fervently wish to believe they do.

Spilled Milk

Every so often “Something in the Milk” gets a boost in attention again, either because I retweet it or someone posts it on a review board or something like that.  And oddly, whenever it happens there is often some new weirdness going on at P411.  This time, for example, P411 has just made a number of new demands of escorts; it has demanded the right to “approve” their personal websites, even charging them for that “approval” until Gina realized that was too transparent a money-grab.  The conditions for approval include “A [linked] P411 badge or banner…must appear in a prominent position on a Main/Front page of your website” and “Sites that present a conflict of interest due to close affiliation with competitors, will not be approved (ie: a site/page hosted by EscortDesign/PureVIP, Date-Check, etc.). Links and banners to legitimate competitors, are fine.”  The accusation has previously been made that Gina’s trying to cash in before she cashes out, and this looks like yet another example of that.  And then just a few days ago, I got this letter from a reader; I have no way to directly verify these statements, so I’m presenting the letter without any further comment.  If you have information which would tend to corroborate this, however, please email me.

This is in regard to Preferred411. I just finished reading your article on another woman who has traced P411 members back to a police department. The same thing has happened to me…and it has happened when another local woman sent me a questionable scheduling request to help her double check it. Both men were hiding behind computer jobs. Both times were reported to Gina and it was just brushed off that cops do enjoy visiting with ladies…but she did end up closing down their accounts. Both findings happened within the past 3 months. After this happened, I’ve suspected an owner assisted infiltration within P411 & I have been on high alert ever since.

I had p411 member visit 2x with me and at the end of December he tried to schedule a 3rd time. I was already suspicious of him because though he went into my bathroom every 15 min during his visits, there was no running of water, no flushing of the toilet, no tissues in the garbage can, no towels touched, no water drops in the sink…in each of the 5-8 minutes he spent in there. Nothing at all. I found this to be very strange…after both times he left, I searched every nook and cranny, including underneath my sink with a mag light, to make sure that there were no eavesdropping devices or similar implanted. On the 3rd time he tried to schedule with me, he told me very slowly that our next appointment “would be full of unexpected surprises & a new year that I would not soon forget.” It made my skin go cold. Luckily, I had already told another local escort about this man & his odd behavior, and when he later tried to schedule with her he grew very angry and agitated with her when she declined him.

There has been a lot of other weird activity coming from p411 since mid-September, and not just for me & the others I’ve already mentioned. I have to screen p411 requests harder than I have to screen the regular ones lately; I don’t trust p411 right now & believe something’s up with it.  How many others might there be who aren’t saying anything?

So, escort readers; have you experienced anything odd and iffy from P411 in the past few months?  I haven’t heard anything similar from gentlemen, but if any of y’all have anything to report I would certainly be interested in hearing it.

In the News (#611)

One of the biggest challenges facing the anti-trafficking movement today is a near-constant acceptance of baseless, inaccurate, and even grossly exaggerated information.  –  Benjamin Corey

Celebrities Denver Broncos logo

Man is shamed and disgraced for seeking consensual sex:

The Denver Broncos are sending practice squad safety Ryan Murphy home…after he was questioned in a prostitution sting…and released…his brother and a suspected prostitute received citations…“We decided it was best if we continued our preparation for Super Bowl 50 without him,” head coach Gary Kubiak said…Murphy’s status as a practice squad player had not changed, only his participation in Super Bowl week…

Naturally, this humiliation was not enough for “sex trafficking” fetishists:

…The National Center on Sexual Exploitation specifically notes the Murphy situation in…[propaganda] declaring that “the normalized culture of commercial sex is a leading contributor to the spike in sex trafficking during the Super Bowl and other large sporting events…Just days before the Super Bowl, we see a prominent sports figure contributing to the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking,” [whore-hater] Dawn Hawkins [vomited out]…“Prostitution is an inherently exploitive and damaging institution, and is intrinsically linked to sex trafficking”…

Droit du Seigneur 

Notice: not “sex trafficking”.  Cops nearly always get the least-possible charges:

Eduardo Cornejo had been a…[New York cop]…for more than a decade…But investigators…had been tracking his movements for months after an anonymous tipster said Mr. Cornejo was a pimp…[who] had employed at least 10 prostitutes…Cornejo…was charged…with transporting women in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution, a federal offense…

Try not to choke when the FBI stooge says “Police officers, like all public servants, are held to a higher standard.”

Law of the Instrument

Baboons define consensual sex as “trafficking”, then scratch their arses in wonderment when they find an unending stream of “traffickers”:

A monthlong [prostitution] sting ended with the arrest of 46 people…in McLennan County [Texas]…This was the fourth sting in the past year…“It shocked me…” [Chief Ape Parnell] McNamara said. “To think, every sting gets a little bit bigger . . . and it doesn’t seem to stop.”  In the past year, 139 people have been arrested in McLennan County undercover stings….including members of an alleged human trafficking ring…[paid perverts] said they logged hundreds of man- hours in the past month visiting online ads…

Gorged With Meaning

Hey Australia, can the US import some of your journalists?

…some have dubbed [sugar dating]…prostitution.  So?  The only surprise about the news hundreds of…young women are signing up to be spoiled on their own terms by older men is that it’s raising eyebrows at all.  If no one in the arrangement is being exploited or coerced, just where does the problem lie?  These are mature adults; any judgment of their choices says more about the person doing the judging.  This is not sex slavery or sex trafficking, it’s not even a case of desperate girls doing something they feel is degrading just to stay alive.  More than a third of the women who responded to the Seeking Arrangement website survey were of middle or upper middle class (comfortable) status…

Deborah Jeane Palfrey

I’ll just leave this right here:

The former lawyer of Deborah Jeane Palfrey…has filed a motion to allow the release of her escort services’ records, saying they “may contain information relevant to the upcoming presidential election.”  Palfrey [supposedly] committed suicide in 2008 following a racketeering conviction.  Montgomery Blair Sibley, whose legal strategies and motions often included antagonizing opposing counsel and judge…remains under several 2007 restraining orders, which prohibited him from releasing Palfrey’s records.  Sibley won’t say how the records could affect the election…

The Widening Gyre

Observable fact: man talks to young women in public, in broad daylight.  Conclusion:  SEX TRAFFICKING!!!

A case of stranger danger at Catalina High School has administrators taking action.  Two girls said they were approached by the same man near campus a few weeks ago, so a meeting to talk about safety…There have been no new incidents…But with no suspects and no arrests, the school doesn’t want to wait for a third…According to the girls, the man told them he was from Pima Community College and wanted to interview them…Council member Steve Kozachik is worried the man may have been up to something much more sinister.  “It might be…some guy putting the young girls in jeopardy as to being trafficked”…

The Free Speech Mafia Marc Randazza

Marc Randazza, the noted First Amendment lawyer, has written a paper which, I think, would be of interest to many of my readers, especially (but not limited to) those who are yourselves lawyers.  Skeptical?  Here’s the abstract in its entirety:

In the case of intellectual property rights (IPRs), some nations erect barriers to the protection of IPRs on the basis of “morality”.  This paper will examine the implications of morality-based impediments to the enforcement of IPRs and their supportability under international agreements.  There are significant freedom of expression issues to consider when we think about “morality” getting in the way of intellectual property rights.  If that description doesn’t make you run to download it, it manages to include an academic discussion of “Cumfiesta”, “Screw You”, “Nut Sack Ale”, and Japanese porn being stolen in Taiwan.  Beat that.

Stupor Bowl

Given that “sex trafficking” myth is largely derived from evangelical Christian dogma, you’d think they’d listen when a theologian tells them it’s bunk:

…Regardless of who published it, the article is likely to have a shocking headline similar to: “Super Bowl is Largest Human Trafficking Event”, or something to that effect.  However, that claim is completely untrue…Whereas other social movements are often born out of a desire to correct stereotypes and misinformation…the modern anti-trafficking movement…perpetuates misinformation…the annual claim that the Super Bowl will be a major human trafficking event…is simply untrue…this results in increased attention from law enforcement (which is often misdirected and harmful)…most arrests are local sex workers, and…cases of human trafficking can often be counted on one hand…anti-trafficking organizations…[perpetuate] bad data, unproven claims, and harmful stereotypes about trafficking and sex workers…I can’t count the times I’ve heard:  “My city is in the top 5 biggest human trafficking destinations!”, “Did you know the average trafficking victim is 14 years old?”, “90% of sex workers are forced into it!”, or, “Pornography is what’s fueling human trafficking!”…As my therapist often tells me: when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

The Mote and the Beam (#422)

Buried in this huge mound of bullshit is its astonishingly stupid and imperialistic premise: the author believes the US government can and should criminalize sex work in other countries:

…the State Department…sidesteps the most critical aspect of determining whether nations are truly “making serious and sustained efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex,” as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act mandates.  Punishing those who seek to purchase commercial sex is the one proven indicator of whether a country is making efforts to reduce demand…Enough is enough.  Any national government having the authority to criminalize the purchase of commercial sex should do so.  It’s time for Congress to pass pending legislation sponsored by Rep. Randy Hultgren…that would…require future TIP reports to assess sex-purchase laws when determining whether nations are making serious efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex…

Rhinoceros (#509)

COAST is still pretending that pigs, bureaucrats and other busybodies know more about our profession than we do:

Dwayne Angebrandt…of Homeland Security…put together a public presentation on how to spot the signs of [“sex trafficking”]…a group of strip-club operators.  For years, law enforcement had [pretended] such a group would likely be made up of some of the very people who are quietly selling women into prostitution…But…many of the club operators and their dancers he met were surprisingly clueless [about government propaganda declaring them “pimps” and “victims”]…an unlikely alliance has formed between his agency and a group called Club Organizers Against Sex Trafficking…

Quite Possibly the Most Uptight Nerd Ever (#563)

I predict this will be lousy with cops within a few months:

New Yorkers sick of the uncertainties of the urban dating scene can now turn to a new app designed to reduce the complexities of dating to dollars and cents.  Ohlala, a controversial on-demand escort dating  app popular in Germany, is launching its services today in its first American market…Pia Poppenreiter…[describes] her app as one that “connects people to go on instant, paid dates…But what happens on the date is actually a private matter”…The app, which launched in Germany this past August, has already facilitated over 25,000 paid connections…[and] is also adding three new cities (Stuttgart, Cologne and Dusseldorf) to its German market, which already includes Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg…

Ashley Madison (#567) 

If this is real, it’s hilariously pathetic:

Isn’t it creepy when your husband/boyfriend leaves the room for a second, and then a stranger with a mask over his eyes enters it right after, and you’re like, “Whoa! Who are you and what have you done with my husband/boyfriend?!” Because everyone knows that disguises that only cover half your face can fool loved ones into thinking you’re a total stranger, Ashley Madison is offering…the option of a brown or black mask that can be slapped on a profile photo; four levels of photo blurring (for those who can’t use Photoshop themselves); and a black bar that can be placed over a user’s eyes in a photo…It’s unclear whether this is intended to be an actual extra layer of security or someone has been watching too many romantic comedies involving masquerade balls and mixed up identities.

Choke Point (#603) 

Much more of this, please:

If you or your company had an active PayPal account frozen or terminated between April 19, 2006, and Nov. 5, 2015, you may eligible for a settlement payment of up to $440 per account.  In the five-year-old class action case of Zepeda v. PayPal, both parties have agreed to a settlement with regards to…improper account holds PayPal placed on some of its customers.  PayPal recently released a notice of settlement, directing users to AccountHoldSettlement.com to file a claim and learn more about the case itself.  A May 10 deadline has been set…PayPal and its partner at the time, eBay…placed inappropriate holds or reserves on sellers’ funds…PayPal has denied all allegations but has agreed to the terms of the settlement to “avoid the costs and uncertainty of a trial.”

Mardi Gras 2016


Maybe the places where many of y’all live don’t observe it, but I still do. So Happy Mardi Gras, dear readers!

Mike Siegel has been a regular and faithful reader of this blog for at least five years, and has on numerous occasions assisted me with scientific or other issues.  See, he’s a professional astronomer and a blogger himself, and now he’s a fiction writer as well; last week, he self-published his first novel through Kindle Direct Publishing. The book is entitled The Water Lily Pond after the series of Monet paintings that inspired it.  He synopsizes it thusly: “Many decades in the future, medical science has made aging a thing of the past.  Painter Walter Winston, at age 128, finds himself dying from simply being exhausted from life.  He sets off on a journey to revisit the places he’s lived, trying to rediscover himself, his life and the people who made it worth living.  It’s science fiction, yes.  But it’s not really about science.  It’s about time and old age and regret and art…The two passages below take place after Walter’s wife has died. Having been alone for a long time and wanting to avoid complications, he occasionally hires an escort.  On at least one occasion, a university hosting his lecture hired an escort for him.  The first passage concerns the latter“:

The last time he’d been in a hotel room identical to this one he had not been alone. She was a pretty girl from Ecuador whom the University had arranged for him. He was a hundred years older than her. They had lain in bed after it was done — the school had generously paid for the entire night. He thought of David and Abishag in the Americo painting. They had sent her to warm him.

Her cigarette smoke made lazy curls on the ceiling as she talked to him. She was certainly the smartest girl he’d ever had – she spoke four languages and was earning her degree from UCLA in astronautics. She spoke of a future on the Earth-Moon run.

“Why do you do this, then?” he’d asked, shocked.

She stared at him for a moment then giggled.

“You’re so old-fashioned.”

“I’m so old!”

“It’s endearing. I think the oldest man I’d been with before you was … 90?  95? He wasn’t quite as prudent.”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

She rolled over, her black hair spilling onto the white pillow like a Pollock painting, her hip making a steep curve beneath the sheets like a Reubens. It made him feel a lot younger than 125 to look at her and to touch her.

“I enjoy it. It’s that simple. The money’s great. I certainly wouldn’t do it for free.  But mainly I enjoy it. Not the act, per se. I enjoy the people.  I always get high-class clients.  Like famous artists,” she said, poking him in the belly.

He sank against the pillow, wondering if he was the only person on Earth old enough to see any stigma in her job.

“Do you remember everyone you’ve ever been with?” she asked. “After …”

“After all this time?” He grinned and nodded. “Sometimes it takes a while, but I do. Not that I’ve been with that many.

“It’s not just women I’ve been with that I remember. I can remember women I’ve wanted and never had. I can still remember a girl I passed on the street a century ago. She had the deepest eyes I’d ever seen. A short white skirt and a green blouse. She’s probably been dead half a century; certainly never knew my name or who I was. And yet I think about her. I can still see the fabric of the blouse clinging to her body.”

She leaned over and kissed him.  “You should have painted her.”

“I did.”

This next passage is from a bit later in the book and references the time Walter lived in the worst part of Harlem in the 1980’s as a struggling artist.

He had never hired a professional before Sarah was gone.  Even in his loneliest nights in Harlem, shortly after his marriage with Anna had collapsed, when he could hear the streetwalkers and their clients in the alleys and crack houses of the neighborhood; when he couldn’t walk to and from home without at least a couple of them asking if he wanted a date.  It had never really crossed his mind.

“They didn’t repel me,” he told Sarah once.  “I got to know some of them over time.   Most of them were nice enough and a couple even knew about my art.  I even drew inspiration from them for one or two paintings.”

“They were in the pentaptych,” said Sarah.

“One was.  A woman who doggedly worked a corner near me for almost a decade.  Put her kid through school on it.  But I just wasn’t interested in what they were offering.”

It was Chuck who talked him into it.  Chuck, who knew that the side of the industry Walter had seen in King’s Slate was the bad part of a much larger enterprise.

“You should come with me to Vegas,” he said one night at the lake, three years after Sarah had died.  There had been an awkward discussion over dinner about whether Walter should get “out there” or not. Now he and Chuck were on the dock, in the darkness.

“Or up to Toronto.  Or over to Paris.  Or Bucharest.  Or anywhere.  Any sophisticated city is going to have professionals – talented, beautiful.  Most places, you wouldn’t even be breaking the law anymore.”

Walter shifted uncomfortably in his deck chair.  The water lapped quietly under the dock.

“Look, I know how you were raised.  But at our age … do you really want to date?  Do you want to go through that?  Especially with two grandchildren and another on the way?  What are you going to do if you meet someone?  Move away?  Leave little Lucia all by herself?  This is a way to not be alone but not have complications.”

“I just can’t see myself doing that,” said Walter.  “Paying someone to pretend to be attracted to me?  It’s not like there’s a shortage of art fans or anything, if meaningless sex was what I wanted.”

“But a professional won’t stalk you.  She won’t want to get pregnant.  She won’t tell everyone about it.  And it’s not just sex.  Sometimes it’s not even sex.  I hired a woman in Moscow to basically go to the Bolshoi with me.”

“Can we just let it go?”

Chuck shrugged.  “As you wish.  But men our age have needs.  Yours will get the better of you at some point.  Less risk if it’s a professional than an amateur.”

In the end, Chuck was right.  He had been surprised that it wasn’t the sex itself that made him happy.  It was the touch of skin, the rustle of sheets, the play of light on a naked body.  It was the feeling, however faintly, of being back in those sepia and ash-colored days when he and Sarah or Juliette or Anna or Linda would lie in a warm bed and just enjoy not being alone.

“Intimacy,” said Chuck.  “Companionship.  Remember Abishag.”

It wasn’t often – a few times a year, maybe.  But it was enough to get through the previous four decades.

Mike writes, “I didn’t set out to reference sex work in my novel.  It just seemed like what the character would do, given his arc, and I saw no reason to shy away from it.  Sex work is a part of our world and will continue to be a part of our world long into the future. There’s no point in pretending it doesn’t exist.”  Mike is a great guy, an ally of sex workers and a friend; if you enjoyed these excerpts, you really ought to consider buying his book.  Pretty please?

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