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Archive for January, 2011

That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to a pertinent answer. –  Jacob Bronowski

It’s time for another round of questions sent in by my readers; if you have a question for me please send it to maggiemcneill@earthlink.net and I’ll answer it next month.

You mentioned in one of your blogs you’re not a big fan of either cunnilingus or analingus, why is that?  I’ve had women tell me that they can’t relax enough because they are worried about how they smell down there, is that a major concern for some women?

Actually, I like analingus on me just fine; I just refuse to do it to a man.  I don’t care for cunnilingus for the simple reason that I can’t usually climax that way; once in a blue moon somebody puts enough pressure on the clit to accomplish it but generally not.  And even when it works it’s totally unsatisfying for me, like the “junk food” of sex; I just don’t really feel satisfied unless I’m penetrated, so I could never be an exclusive lesbian no matter how much I like girls.  As for the second part of your question…oh, definitely!  Even with my experience, and despite the thousands of times I’ve been told how sweet I taste, it still makes me tense until I’m sure the guy is really getting into it.  You have to understand how paranoid women are about hygiene, and those who watch too many TV commercials are even worse.

You mentioned once that you had electrolysis on your bikini line; is that hair permanently gone or do you need to touch up down there?

Those who saw my picture on December 17th probably noticed that my skin is extremely fair and my hair rather dark; this is a deadly combination because even when one shaves one’s legs, the stubble is clearly visible under the skin.  As a teenager I existed in a permanent state of mortification over this issue; I had no aversion to miniskirts because I just wore hose with them, but informal shorts were out and so was daytime swimming (though I loved pool parties after dark).  So in my early twenties I decided to start experimenting with other means of hair removal.  I had already discovered Nair did absolutely nothing for me, nor did any other common depilatory, so I tried the stronger ones and left them on for twice the suggested length; I got chemical burns on my skin but the hair stubbornly remained.  I tried sugaring (which worked great but was expensive and time-consuming), home waxing (ditto) and this crazy mitt thing that was supposed to rub the hair off, but none of it really satisfied me.

Then I discovered that boon to womankind, the epilator, a device which looks sort of like an electric shaver but has a rotating head covered with little tweezers; one runs it over one’s legs and it literally plucks the hairs out by the roots.  They take quite a while to grow back and when they do they’re finer and lighter.  The first time I ever used the epilator I was smart enough to do it one day after shaving my legs, so the hairs were very short; I did it twice the first week and then once per week ever since.  The first time it was very uncomfortable (some might say a bit painful but I have a high threshold of pain), the third time only slightly uncomfortable, and by the fifth or sixth week I barely felt it.  I was (and still am) absolutely delighted with it; after 15 years of weekly use I no longer have any leg or arm hair to speak of, though I still epilate every Tuesday to clear off the peachfuzz my husband swears exists only in my imagination.

When I first started stripping I had electrolysis on my bikini line, eyebrows and underarms (I had so few hairs there to start with I just figured I’d get them permanently zapped).  Electrolysis is indeed permanent but since I still have hair along my labia I just get it with the epilator.  Since as you might expect that area is much more sensitive than my legs it was pretty painful the first half-dozen times, but as my Maman used to say “You have to suffer for beauty”.  And after all these years, I barely notice it any more unless I carelessly get too close to the remaining triangle of public hair; that, I notice.

I just heard about the “Video Vigilante”; is what this guy does legal? It seems like stalking if you ask me.

The soi-disant “Video Vigilante”, Brian Bates, is a perfect example of reaction formation; he is an Oklahoma City man who is so obsessed with streetwalkers that he has spent huge amounts of his time for the past 14 years driving around areas they frequent, videotaping men who try to pick them up and then turning the videos in to the cops as “evidence” and also posting them on his website “JohnTV”.  Clearly, this is not a mentally healthy person, but unfortunately under Oklahoma law his behavior is mostly legal because he videotapes events which occur in public.  A few years ago he was accused of paying streetwalkers to set up potential clients so he could tape them, but the charges were eventually dismissed because, though highly credible,  they appeared to be the result of a long-standing feud between Bates, the police and Oklahoma City District Attorney Wes Lane.

Other states have different rules about public videotaping by individuals; a number of them consider the act to be essentially similar to wiretapping and so apply the rules of consent which regulate the latter to the former as well.  Illinois’ wiretap law, the strictest in the country, requires both parties of a conversation consent to being recorded, and this also applies to videotaping.  That sounds wonderful until one realizes that it means videotaping occasions of police brutality is a felony unless the cop consents to the taping (hah!), and the city of Chicago has on a number of occasions charged bystanders and even victims with this law in order to prevent their actions being exposed publicly as has become so common in other states.

But in Oklahoma it’s business as usual for the Video Voyeur, who continues his weird antics to the present day and apparently only takes breaks to go on self-promotion tours and talk shows.

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A woman one loves rarely suffices for all our needs, so we deceive her with another whom we do not love. –  Marcel Proust

As a whore myself I have to admit the Ashley Madison Agency ads with slogans like “Don’t pay for an escort, find cheating wives in your area!” irritate me a lot more than the ones which simply say “Life is short. Have an affair.”  But not by much.  As I’ve said before, while I accept that male infidelity is extremely common, I think it’s reprehensible for a married man to have sex with amateurs without his wife’s permission. A whore is a professional who wants nothing more than her fee; she is scrupulous about protection and will not disrupt a marriage by calling her clients, demanding they leave their wives, whining “you don’t spend enough time with me” or any of the other behaviors which make a mistress a danger to a marriage.  So as you might expect, I find the idea of a dating service which specifically markets itself to married people looking for affairs to be repellent in the extreme.

Before Thursday night (when I wrote this article) just about everything I knew about Ashley Madison appears in the paragraph above.  I suspected that, like most dating venues which emphasize casual sex without commitment, the ratio would be dozens of men per woman, that most women who did join would not be the sort whom men pay attention to in real life, that the agency disguised the male-female disproportion by posting hundreds of fake woman-seeking-man ads and paying women to pretend to be customers, and that just about every other female ad which didn’t fall into one of the above categories was placed by an escort.  As it turns out I was right (no big surprise), but what I didn’t realize was just how far this scam goes to part horny guys from their money; from what my research revealed, “chat lines” are bastions of ethical business practice by comparison.

I’ve seen Ashley Madison ads online for a number of years now, but never thought much about them until I saw this article about the agency attempting to purchase an ad during the Super Bowl.  You would have to have lived under a rock for the past few decades not to realize how incredibly expensive Super Bowl ads are; a couple of million dollars a minute now, unless I’m very much mistaken.  So the fact that Ashley Madison could afford such an ad made me sit up and take notice.  I therefore decided to do a little digging, and what I discovered disgusted me even more.

Ashley Madison (named for two popular baby girl names of 2001, the year it was created) is the brainchild of a Toronto lawyer (why am I not surprised?) named Noel Biderman, who apparently thinks laws are more important than morals because he goes around saying things to interviewers like, “Adultery is the only thing in the world people think is immoral but a consensus still do it…What I’m saying is don’t have an office romance and risk losing your job.  Don’t start a relationship with an unsuspecting single person and definitely don’t visit an escort service and risk breaking the law…We’re secure, anonymous and it was created exactly for people like you.”  Because, you know, breaking an arbitrary law (which doesn’t even exist in Biderman’s country) is so much worse than risking destroying your marriage because you’re too cheap or too proud to call a whore and would rather risk entanglement with an emotionally damaged woman instead.

But that’s only the beginning of Biderman’s attacks on hookers and only the tenth part of his self-serving sleaziness.  Do a Google search for any phrase like “Ashley Madison scam”, “Ashley Madison fraud” or “Ashley Madison review” and you’ll find websites stocked with testimonials for the agency and either insinuating or outright stating that escorts carry venereal diseases.  Of course, as my regular readers know this is a crock of shit; escorts have a vested interest in staying clean, and promiscuous amateurs have far higher rates of every known STD.  Why are these sites so eerily similar and why do they all carry praise for the agency when their names suggest otherwise?  Because they’re all owned by Biderman, of course, as a quick whois search will reveal.  It took me a bit of diligent digging to find any REAL criticism of the agency, and what I found is pretty much summed up on this site (there were a few others but this had the most and best-written critiques).

In a nutshell, if you’re a woman Ashley Madison is just fine because ten seconds after you sign up the men will be all over you like white on rice.  But if you’re a guy it’s a total scam; you buy “credits” which are needed to do pretty much anything on the site (send a message, receive a message, start a chat, etc).  The agency employs a number of shills and/or robots which bombard male members with fake messages that cost credits to open, and sending messages to the fake “too good to be true” ads costs credits as well and goes nowhere.  If a man lucks out and picks an ad which actually goes to an escort he’ll get laid (after paying her fee, of course), but he could’ve made the same connection on a hooker board, Backpage, etc for free and without the hassle of trying to figure out which ads were for whores, which for fakes and which for real women twenty years and fifty pounds ago.  Everything is set up like a casino or a carnival con game, enticing the poor bastard to keep throwing good money after bad in a futile effort to get something for nothing.

One of my serious university boyfriends (he was 28 when I was 19) once told me, “Maggie, nobody can take advantage of you unless you have larceny in your heart.”  It took me a while to understand what he meant, which is this:  There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.  Ashley Madison holds out the promise of something for nothing:  Extracurricular sex without monetary cost, commitment or risk.  But as with all such offers, it’s a lie:  Pussy costs, and free pussy is the most expensive kind.  And Noel Biderman, AKA “Ashley Madison”, has figured out a way to tack on a hefty surcharge.

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It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. –  James Baldwin

It has been said that the less one knows, the more certainly he knows it.  This is certainly true of “sex trafficking” hysterics; they know even less about prostitution than the average educated member of the general public, but they declare themselves “experts” and pursue their wholly wrongheaded crusade with a vigor rarely to be found in anyone with actual knowledge.  They organize themselves into groups armed with shotguns and set out to pursue wild geese in areas where none are to be found, excitedly shooting parrots, canaries, feather dusters, joke-shop rubber chickens, airplanes, people in Big Bird costumes and anything else with the most remote resemblance to their quarries, and dismissing the concerns of their targets’ owners with an earnest “if we get even ONE wild goose it will be worth it!” They declare those who point out that their victims are not in fact geese to be “in denial” and demand that governments divert money to special goose-hunting programs and allow police to break into henhouses in order to search for the huge numbers of geese they insist are hiding there, and when these hunts still don’t turn up enough geese they begin to classify chickens, ducks and turkeys as geese and then ominously claim that the wild goose “problem” is growing ever larger.

Unfortunately, our culture hasn’t yet had enough of this particular moral panic, so new collectives of sex trafficking fetishists continue to sprout like mushrooms.  Here’s a recent story on one such group; like most, its aggressiveness in persecuting whores is in direct proportion to its ignorance.

With a study of a popular website offering adult advertisements for “escorts,” a young human rights group in Memphis is calling for action to reduce human trafficking in the local sex industry.  The group, Operation Broken Silence, this week released a report that studied Memphis-area female escort listings for the final three months of 2010 placed on the classified advertisement website Backpage.com.  The group’s study…charts a migration of adult ads to the website.  During the three-month period, the group counted 1,952 ads considered advertising sex for sale.  They included 352 women…the average age given for the women, while suspect, was just under 24.

Ryan Dalton, 23, a first-year law student at the University of Memphis, is the “anti-trafficking director” for Operation Broken Silence who led volunteers in the study of local ads on Backpage; “I’m under the conviction that Memphis is one of the largest cities in the nation, top 20, and does not have any grassroots activism specifically against human trafficking,” Dalton said.  Operation Broken Silence, founded in 2007 and hoping to obtain nonprofit status from the IRS, targets issues of genocide and a world water crisis, as well as human trafficking or modern-day slavery.  Mark Hackett, 23, a University of Memphis student who changed his major to international studies from culinary arts, founded the group.

I’m not sure this writer understands the use of scare quotes, since he puts them on the perfectly normal word “escorts” and also on a person’s job title.  But that’s just the beginning of this kiddie-train wreck; the people he writes about seem even more confused.  I’m going to resist the powerful urge to derive a conclusion about OBS’s founder from his rather radical change of major and instead ask what in the world his lieutenant means by saying “I’m under the conviction that Memphis is one of the largest cities in the nation, top 20…”  Doesn’t he know?  It took me all of 45 seconds to look this up on Wikipedia and discover that yes, Memphis is the 19th largest city in the US by population; that’s not a “conviction”, it’s a statistical fact.  And I’m really scratching my head about what these clueless wonders think their study of prostitution advertising migration from a website which no longer accepts the ads to one which still does is supposed to demonstrate.  There’s not one claim here, not even the usual falsified type, that any of these escorts are under coercion; furthermore, the study found that the average escort advertised in the ads they examined was 24.  So what?  A bunch of escort ads of adult women were placed on a popular advertising site, and…what?  Is there something I’m missing?

Apparently the moral crusaders from Operation Broken Silence think so, because armed with this “study” they started demanding the state give itself the power to steal whores’ possessions:

During the first week of 2011, OBS went to Nashville to begin drafting bills for asset seizure from convicted traffickers…When traffickers are convicted, all of the property, money, vehicles, etc, anything used in connection with human trafficking, will be sold and the proceeds will go primarily to an anti-trafficking fund that can be used by NGOs throughout Tennessee to launch future anti-trafficking campaigns.  The money and assets that traffickers used to enslave people will now be used to free slaves if this statute is passed during this session.

I’m sure most of you are aware of the “drug lord law” which allows the United States to rob everything from any person caught with more than a certain amount of marijuana in his possession; you can bet that this new law, if enacted, will result in hookers and their husbands, drivers, service owners and anyone else associated with them being charged with “human trafficking” rather than prostitution or pandering so as to allow everything they own to be stolen by the state.  And if the law passes there you can bet it will spread like a disease; governments never pass over an excuse to take things that don’t belong to them.  Wake up, America; “human trafficking” hysteria will get much worse before it recedes, and once laws like this are enacted they will stay on the books for decades afterward.  What these fanatics don’t know can hurt them, you and everyone else.

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I never guess. It is a shocking habit—destructive to the logical faculty. –  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

The Schapiro Group’s newest sex trafficking manifesto revolves around their highly dubious claim that it is possible to scientifically guess the ages of women in photographs with a degree of certainty that allows those guesses to be equivalent to fact:

The key to the technique described in the marble example [see yesterday’s column] comes from the phrase “if  we knew from previous experience.”  The problem is, there is no scientifically reliable previous experience on which to base the probability that a girl selling sex who looks quite young is, indeed, under 18 years.  Therefore, we conducted a separate study to serve as this previous experience.  Basically, the study involved asking a random sample of  100 adults to guess the ages of  a variety of  females in photographs.  Some of  these pictures were of females whose ages were known (teenagers to young adults), and some were not…the pictures of  unknown girls came from erotic services postings on the Atlanta Craigslist web site…subjects were posed provocatively (e.g., a picture of  a female licking her lips).  Pictures of females of  unknown ages were selected because the subject appeared “young.”  In selecting the pictures, multiple reviewers agreed that there was at least some chance that each of  the females of  unknown ages in the pictures was actually under 18.  This is how we operationalize “young” throughout the study.  Study participants viewed each of  these pictures and estimated the age of each pictured female.  Importantly, study participants rated the average age of females from Craigslist (whose ages we did not know) the same as the average age of  pictured females whose ages we did know.  Study participants were balanced by race and gender, though the results indicated conclusively that participant demographics did not have an impact on age estimations, nor did the demographics of  the pictured females have an effect.

…study participants tend to overestimate the ages of provocatively posed females…across all ratings of known-age females, participants tended to assume the females were 2.5 years older than they actually were.  When a girl under 18 poses provocatively, participants tended to overestimate her age by 7-8 years, whereas when the subject was closer to age 22 or 23, the age estimate was much more accurate than the average overestimate of 2.5 years.  In fact, women age 24 and over tend to be estimated as younger than they actually are when posed provocatively.  This effect, which is represented by a curvilinear mathematical equation, allows us to speak definitively about the probability that a female of  a given estimated age is actually under age 18.  In fact, the study showed that any given “young” looking girl who is selling sex has a 38% likelihood of being under age 18.  Put another way, for every 100 “young” looking girls selling sex, 38 are under 18.

Reread that if you need to; the truth is cleverly hidden, but there.  Assuming that everyone could agree on what is “provocative” (which men and women don’t, but we’ll leave it there anyhow), the only ages of which the authors could be certain were the ones whose ages were known, none of whom were prostitutes!  This experiment might have been somewhat valid if the ages of ALL the pictured women were known, but since the experimenters improperly introduced an “x” factor into what should have been a controlled experiment there is absolutely NO way to know which percentage of the girls were actually under 18.  This is such a glaringly obvious mistake that I can’t believe the authors were unaware of it; what seems more likely is that they initially conducted a proper study which produced results too low to satisfy them (like New Zealand’s 3.54%, perhaps) and so were forced to redesign the study with an unspecified percentage of photographs of unknowable age (“some” is not a valid mathematical expression of percentage) in order to get the results they wanted.  Simply put, there is no way for the authors to know whether the girls of unknown age (who, since they came from Craigslist escort ads, were presumably automatically considered “provocatively” posed whether they were or not) were 7-8 years younger than they appeared, 2.5 years younger or actually older; the 38% figure is therefore completely invalid even if 100 cherry-picked experimental subjects were a large enough sample to derive such conclusions (which they aren’t).

The paper then goes into a long obfuscation about escort services (designed, no doubt, to convince the reader that the authors know what they’re talking about) which as I discussed in my previous column on these scammers ignores the fact that the vast majority of escorts tend to revise their ages down.  The section contains such portentous sentences as “Escort service operators have told our callers they have 17 year-old escorts specifically” and “we also know that many of  these phone numbers go to just a handful of call centers.”  Since the age of consent in Texas is 17 and many escort services have multiple phone numbers, these sentences actually have no semantic value but are included to make the services seem “shady”.  The use of the term “call center” makes it sound as though a third party was answering the phone, which is entirely incorrect; multiple phone numbers go to one business, not multiple businesses to one external “answering service”.  But even if they did, what of it?  Many doctors may use the same answering service; does that make them criminals?  The whole thing degenerates into a silly song and dance about “CSEC victims per service” which in the end translates (again) into “we guessed”.

The next section starts out with a statement which is either unbelievably ignorant or an egregious lie: “As of  November 2010, the tracking data do not include any content from Craigslist, as it closed the ‘adult services’ section of  its website in the U.S.  Recently the story was completely different. There were many websites, but only one main source for paid sex services ads in states across the U.S.: Craigslist.”  Yes, this paper is actually making the astonishingly stupid and easily disproved claim that prior to this year, there were essentially no other online sources of escort ads worth noting.  Backpage, Eros and all the various hooker boards did not, according to the Schapiro Group, exist.

This stunning idiocy is followed by the comparatively subtle “There were an estimated 52 CSEC victims advertised each day across all major websites…the data show that many of  these girls do not stay long on these sites, a finding that is consistent with the notion that many girls are trafficked state-to-state.”  Now,  this is a sensible statement if one makes the unwarranted presumptions that all young prostitutes are involuntary, controlled by others, and “trafficked” from place to place; unfortunately for the Schapiro Group, none of those presumptions are true.  The reason many of the ads disappear quickly is very simple:  Many young girls decide to try escorting, place an ad, discover in a call or two that they don’t like it, and never renew the ad.  Every escort service owner has had to deal with young girls who quit after their first call or two; this is no different from any other entry-level job (telemarketing, for example, has a very high attrition rate).  The only reason the authors’ assertions are not instantly perceived as ridiculous by their target audience is that they all buy into the underlying assumption that sex work is intrinsically different from all other work.

After a few more pages of mumbo-jumbo to justify still more guessing, the authors present their final numbers drawn from a hat, then claim that these self-generated numbers exceed the number of women who die by suicide, homicide, accidents, AIDS and childbirth combined.  Yes, I realize that comparing prostitution with causes of death is like comparing apples to hamburgers, but obviously the Shapiro Group hopes its readers won’t catch the non sequitur.  The rest of the paper consists of self-congratulatory statements about the “reliability” and “credibility” of their guesses (apparently they’ve never heard of that inconvenient thing called “peer review”) and advising readers on how to use the propaganda to convince legislators to divert money from programs dedicated to helping real victims by “provid[ing] you with a high degree of  perceived credibility among various audiences.”  I don’t think it would be inappropriate for me to apply the term “shameless” in this context.

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We should know clearly before we discuss this matter; to guess is one thing, to know clearly another. –  Aeschylus

Regular readers will remember the Schapiro Group, a marketing firm which specializes in producing bogus “studies” to prove whatever it is their clients want them to prove, often by the use of redefinition (such as the study in which an “adolescent” was defined as someone under 22) and guessing.  In my column of November 29th I dissected their “study” on what they term “CSEC” (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) in Georgia, which claimed to “prove” that 58% of prostitution transactions in Georgia were conducted with “trafficked children” (i.e., prostitutes under 18 who may actually be of legal age of consent), but actually proved absolutely nothing except that the Schapiro Group thinks its readers are fools.  Well, they’re at it again; Brandy Devereaux called my attention to a new study by these same con artists, this one paid for by a group calling itself the “Dallas Women’s Foundation”.  The study is just as fundamentally flawed as the last one, but even more insulting to its reader because it attempts to justify wild-ass guessing (WAG) as a valid determiner of the age of a woman in a photograph; the approach was first used in a previous scam (excuse me, “study”) published last May for the “Women’s Funding Network”, and indeed most of the new paper is lifted directly from the older one (I guess the Schapiro Group believes in recycling).

As before, the report opens by redefining young women as children, but this time (perhaps in response to criticism of its previous boondoggles) the authors actually attempt to justify the redefinition:  “There are several ways to define a ‘child’ according to federal and state laws. Not only does  ‘under age 18’ align with important federal laws defining childhood, but it is a definition widely accepted among the general public.”  In other words, “because many ignorant Americans confuse the term ‘child’ with the term ‘legal minor’ we’re going to let the error stand since it serves our purposes, even though we know quite well that not only are they different concepts, but that the age of consent in Texas is 17.”

It is safe to say that this research methodology is designed to count, over a one-month period, the number of  adolescent females who are acutely commercially sexually exploited, and actively marketed within the local sex trade…collectively the results indicate a significant number of  adolescent girls caught in the Texas sex trade during the month: 28 through escort services [and] 712 through Internet classifieds websites.

No, it’s safe to say (as the reader will soon see) that the methodology is not designed to “count” anything, but rather to produce the exact results the authors wish it to produce, as revealed by the fact that these numbers don’t remotely reflect the percentage of adolescents among arrested prostitutes in Texas or anywhere else.

To understand why it is difficult to study CSEC, it is instructive to define it, as CSEC is both simple and challenging to define.

Translation:  “We have to figure out how to define it so as to prove what we have been paid to prove despite the facts.”

There have been documented attempts to quantify the problem of  commercial sexual exploitation of  children in the United States, however very few of  these involve direct empirical investigations…Most academic and government quantifications represent educated guesswork.

No, most of them represent numbers made up from whole cloth in order to support a panic in the ignorant populace so the government can justify prohibitionist laws against whores.  This represents educated guesswork, and as you can see it generates far more realistic numbers.  Scientific detachment does not produce language like this:

…the majority of  girls trapped in the industry are in their teenage years.  Johns soliciting these girls are engaging in a despicable act, but typically not because the johns are pedophiles.  It seems that most of  the girls they solicit are, in a biological sense, sexually mature.  In fact, it is distinctly possible that johns looking for “young” girls sometimes do not know that the young woman they are soliciting is actually under age 18.  One critical aspect of  this study shows just how dramatically people fundamentally overestimate the ages of  girls posing in mildly provocative ways.  Adolescent girls still appear quite young—which we also document as central to their appeal to johns—but often do not appear to be unambiguously younger than 18.

The authors fully admit that it’s extremely difficult to know the age of a girl by her picture, and also that many teenage girls are sexually mature, yet still insist on referring to male attraction to such girls as “despicable”!  And of course the fact that it’s 100% legal for a man in Texas to have sex with a 17-year-old is ignored; I guess that law is “despicable” as well (what must they think of Hawaii and Idaho?)  Anyhow, it only degenerates from there; the next section insists on using emotionally-loaded but semantically-poor terms like “exploited” and making broad and totally unsupportable statements like “children…are regarded as nothing more than assets to their exploiters” (not to mention self-congratulatory ones like “the study is a quantum leap forward in determining…the magnitude of  the problem”) while continuing to maintain the pretense of scientific methodology.  And here’s the methodology:

When researchers count events that occur at varying degrees of  uncertainty, they typically count probabilities rather than discrete cases.  For a simple example, consider a drawer of  40 identically shaped red and blue marbles.  Imagine trying to count the number of  red marbles while wearing a blindfold.  This, obviously, is an impossible task.  If we knew from previous experience, however, that 25% of  the marbles are red, we would count each marble—without seeing its true color—as .25 red.  We count each of  the 40 marbles in the drawer this way, and sum up the red probabilities to arrive at a red count of 10 marbles.  The problem is, there is no scientifically reliable previous experience on which to base the probability that a girl selling sex who looks quite young is, indeed, under 18 years.  Therefore, we conducted a separate study to serve as this previous experience.

Like all good con artists, the Schapiro Group begins the scam with a reasonable-sounding proposition.  By the authors’ own admission there is no way to objectively know which percentage of whores are under an arbitrary age, so there can be no “previous experience”.  In part two tomorrow, I’ll show you the sophistry they designed in order to trick the careless reader into accepting the proposition that WAGs at girls’ ages are actually “scientific evidence”.  In the meantime, take a look at the article and see how many flaws you can find in it; to list all of them would take a whole week of this blog!

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Many think that assigning blame settles matters. –  Mason Cooley

I reckon the American yellow press is just reluctant to give up a good villain after spending so much effort creating it.  It’s been months now since Craigslist decided to stop being the whipping boy of every politician with an anti-whore agenda and every fourth-rate reporter hoping to lead a lynch mob, but apparently the New York Post (a tabloid rag in the grand old Hearst tradition) didn’t get the memo.  This article is slightly paraphrased to correct the Post’s clumsy grade-school level composition and remove inflammatory and unnecessary terms, but you can look at the original for the full effect.

All four of the corpses found near a Long Island beach in December were young prostitutes who advertised their services on Craigslist and were likely slain by a serial killer, authorities said Monday (January 24th).  After identifying one of the bodies as Megan Waterman, 22, of Maine, officials revealed that the three other skeletons found wrapped in burlap bags at Gilgo Beach were all Craigslist escorts who were killed shortly after meeting their murderer.  Using DNA evidence, the other victims were identified as Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, of Norwich, Connecticut; Amber Lynn Costello, 27, of North Babylon, New York; and Melissa Barthelemy, 24, of Buffalo, New York.

The killer’s last known victim, Costello, disappeared from North Babylon only five months ago on September 2nd; Waterman was last seen at a Hauppauge, New York Holiday Inn on June 6th of last year, and Brainard-Barnes vanished from Manhattan in July 2007.  Barthelemy was last seen in The Bronx on July 12th, 2009 and was reported missing six days later after her mother and sister received calls from her cell phone.  “Do you know what your sister does for a living?” the male caller asked, according to Barthelemy’s mother.  “Your sister’s a whore, don’t be like your sister.”

Though my version sticks to the facts, that’s never good enough for the Post, which felt compelled to subtitle the article “Craigslist creep killed 4 hookers” and open it with the phrase “Craigslist was a hit list”; the rest of the article was peppered with boyfriends described as rappers, pimps and drug dealers.  Indeed, the serial killer himself is eclipsed by references to Craigslist, as though the Post were trying to blame the website for the murders; I daresay that’s a bit of a stretch even for a tabloid.  The AP version is, as you might expect, a bit more subdued, and contains additional details, including a number of brilliant and sensitive comments from the district attorney:

Investigators did not identify a suspect, or say how the women were killed, but were looking into what clients they might have met shortly before they disappeared.  One of the women was reported missing nearly 3½ years ago; another was seen as recently as last September.  “Their deaths are a direct result of their business as prostitutes,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota told reporters.  “I sincerely hope that people who are engaged in a similar business as these four young women would come forward.  They certainly must have some information.”

Police were looking for another missing Craigslist escort when they happened upon the bodies near the beach.  They have since said that the person they were originally looking for, a woman from New Jersey, was not among the dead.  Authorities said Monday that case is still under investigation.  Police Commissioner Richard Dormer initially suggested that a serial killer might be involved when the bodies were found in December, but detectives later became tight-lipped about the matter.  But on Monday, Spota said that “the actual cause of deaths appear to be substantially similar” and that “it appears the same person or persons are responsible.”  Spota and Dormer refused to say how the women died.  The case has some similarities to a 2006 New Jersey case, in which four prostitutes’ bodies were found in a drainage ditch just outside Atlantic City and about a mile from the beach; those killings remain unsolved.

District Attorney Spota says that the deaths of the women was a “direct result of their business as prostitutes”; obviously he must have the same words of wisdom for the families of cops killed in the line of duty.  Perhaps one day the gang of a criminal Mr. Spota convicts will kill him as well, and if that happens I’m sure he’ll accept his fate knowing that it was a “direct result of his business as district attorney.”  Brandy Devereaux had some choice words for jackasses like Mr. Spota, including a number of links to new stories about other people he would no doubt say deserved to die because of their choices to be highway workers, psychiatric counselors and Wal-Mart employees.  But please note that Mr. Spota’s second quoted sentence surpasses the first in sheer cluelessness; after telling sex workers it’s our fault if we’re killed, he suggests we come forward to be arrested (no doubt so he can increase his conviction rate).  I guess he thinks whores are as stupid as he is evil and pompous.

Interestingly, Police Commissioner Dormer had more sense and sensitivity:  “What activities these victims may have engaged in prior to their murders does not matter,” Dormer said Monday.  “They were young women whose lives were cut tragically short.”  At least Commissioner Dormer recognizes that murderers are responsible for murders; if the New York Post was in charge of the investigation it would no doubt be sending cops over  to interrogate Craigslist personnel, and if District Attorney Spota were running the show he would no doubt be subjecting hookers to the third degree.  Obviously those motivated by advertising revenues or votes would rather persecute those they can get their filthy hands on in lieu of the yet-unknown (and therefore inaccessible) party who actually committed the crimes.

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…changes aren’t permanent, but change is. –  Pye Dubois and Neil Peart, “Tom Sawyer”

Who Did Your Tits? (October 1st)

As those who remember this column already know, I can deeply sympathize with any woman who gets a boob job, whether for personal reasons or for business reasons.  And though I wouldn’t do it myself, I can even understand why a woman might want more than one boob job so as to be even larger.  But I have a lot of trouble comprehending why anyone would feel the need for SIX boob jobs by the age of 23, nor for that matter why it took her five surgeries to get to the same size I reached in one jump despite the fact that I was pretty flat-chested to start.  And to have the surgery against medical advice in a desperate bid for publicity is just sad.  Requiescat in pace, you poor, misguided little kitten.

Jezebel (November 6th)

I touched on a number of topics in this column, but one of them was self-appointed guardians of the public morality who belong to groups like “Morality in Media”.  Well, the Marriott corporation has apparently decided to kiss up to such groups in an attempt to make itself appear “family friendly”.  This is paraphrased from a story which appeared in USA Today on January 20th:

Marriott International reports that it’s removing access to adult movies from the new hotel rooms it will be opening the next several years.  The decision coincides with a pending shift to new, in-room entertainment technology, and comes after years of discussion on whether the availability of adult entertainment in guest rooms is “appropriate” and whether secure safeguards exist to keep it away from children.  But it’s certainly no coincidence that in-room porn, for years a reliable money-maker for hotels, has been steadily declining in popularity (and thus profitability) as business travelers increasingly turn to cheaper self-provided entertainment (or simply access porn via the hotel’s broadband internet connection).

According to Marriott’s statement, “It is our practice to keep adult content out of the reach of children and unavailable to any adult who chooses not to view it.  We have strong controls in place that allow guests to block these materials. Changing technology and how guests access entertainment has reduced the revenue hotels and their owners derive from in-room movies, including adult content.  We are working with in-room entertainment providers and technology vendors to transition to the next generation of in-room entertainment.  This new platform of Internet-based video-on-demand will facilitate our exit from the traditional hotel video systems that included adult content in the menu selection, and will also provide guests greater choice and control over what they watch across our system.  As we transition to this new platform, adult content will be off the menu for virtually all of our newly built hotels.  Over the next few years, this will be the policy across our system.”

When I showed this story to my husband (who frequently travels on business) he pointed out that another reason for the decline is that adult movies are always much more expensive than the other options, which is not only a financial disincentive but causes these selections to stand out on the hotel bill even though the name of the movie does not appear.  Obviously, Marriott’s discontinuing in-room porn is the equivalent of a sneaky Catholic schoolboy trying for an easy Lenten penance by giving up a type of candy he no longer likes.

Welcome To Our World (January 20th)

Just a few days ago I wrote about women in other walks of life being on the receiving end of the same kind of rhetoric whores endure constantly, then yesterday the Guardian was kind enough to provide me with another example I’ve paraphrased here:

Protesters blockaded the main entrance of New Scotland Yard in London in a demonstration against undercover police officers having sex with members of groups they infiltrate.  The protest followed the revelation by former undercover cop Mark Kennedy, reported in the Observer Sunday (January 23rd) that undercover operatives attempting to infiltrate environmental and left-wing activist groups routinely use sex as a tool to blend in and gather intelligence.

Anna Jones, who was among 35 protesters at the headquarters of the Metropolitan police, said: “These women were not able to give informed sexual consent.”  Another demonstrator, Leila Deen, asked a young male staff member:  “Did you know your agents were using sex with women like us to get information?  It is a clear abuse of public office.”

The protesters carried pictures of the undercover police officers identified in reports along with placards with slogans such as “Keep your truncheon in your trousers.”  They demanded that other undercover officers should be identified.  “We want a fully independent judged inquiry into the way undercover policing is being conducted in this country,” said Kate Blagojevic.

The Association of Chief Police Officers claimed last week that operatives were absolutely forbidden to sleep with activists, but Kennedy denied that and said that senior officers encouraged the behavior; the only stipulation was that falling in love was considered highly unprofessional because it might compromise an investigation.

Hmm, cops having sex with women under false pretenses in order to bust them; now where have I heard about that before?  Welcome to our world, environmental activists!  And BTB, policemen, there’s a word for a man obtaining sex from a woman by force (deception, after all,  is a mild form of force) that she cannot be persuaded to give by other means, especially when his intent is to hurt her by means of that sex.

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