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Archive for July 16th, 2011

We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.  –  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Short articles about those who believe images are more powerful than reality.

Secret Squirrel

I guess the concept of “trust” has gone out of style.  And perhaps I’m old-fashioned or idealistic, but I think it would irreparably shatter my relationship with a person if I found out he or she had used this nasty little Secret Squirrel gizmo on my computer (reproduced exactly as it appeared):

The P0rn Detection Stick is a thumb drive device that will search through all the images on your computer.  Scan them for p0rnographic content, and create a report of suspected p0rnographic images.  It even scans deleted images and Internet cache files so there’s no hiding Internet activity.  This means even if Internet Explorer cache files are deleted, many images can still be recovered and scanned for p0rnography.  Best of all, no software is installed on the target machine so they don’t know you’ve performed a search.  You can even securely delete objectionable images…Paraben’s P0rn Detection Stick allows you to find images that potentially can include p0rnographic contents.  Paraben’s P0rn Detection Stick scans an arrangement of images to determine attributes that indicate the image may be of a p0rnographic nature.  It uses sophisticated, analytical processes; consisting of thousands of algorithms.  These include 11 different detection methods to provide enough information to reliably distinguish between p0rnographic and non-p0rnographic images.

The thing that boggles my mind most about this ad is the repeated substitution of zero for lower-case “o”; seriously, it hurts my brain even worse than it hurts my eyes, because I cannot comprehend any possible reason for it.  Is it supposed to be “kewl”, like the substitution of “z” for “s” in “hip-hop” writing?  Or is it something even more stupid?

As annoying as that is, though, it’s inconsequential besides the morally bankrupt philosophy behind the device.  Since cops already have their own methods of doing this, the target purchasers must be wives and parents (who stand more to lose from spying than from their husbands or kids looking at porn) and employers (who are pretty desperate if they can’t think of a better reason to fire somebody than that).  Am I wrong, or is this a symptom of a serious social illness?

Second Verse, Same as the First

Are these guys like lemmings or something?  Well, at least this one was from someplace other than New York; here’s the story from the New Orleans Times-Picayune of June 28th:

Kenner City Councilman Joe Stagni admitted today that he sent a picture of himself in his underwear to a city employee 18 months ago…”I had an inappropriate but consensual relation (sic) with an adult female and we exchanged improper electronic communications which ended (in) 2009,” Stagni, 47, said in a prepared statement.  Stagni’s personal smartphone was used to send a text message and the picture to Annamaria Pizzolato, who was Kenner’s internal auditor at the time…”I do not know how a communication appeared on any public transmission or equipment,” Stagni said.

Pizzolato forwarded the image to the work e-mail account of Danna Morris, who was Kenner’s information technology director at the time…”Once you do that, it’s stuck in the city server,” said city attorney Keith Conley, who released the image as part of a public records request.  He said it is the only such image that he knows about.  Morris…abruptly resigned in April 2010 amid an investigation of computer irregularities.  Mayor Mike Yenni fired Pizzolato in September…

Fun Fact for my readers:  I was living in Kenner (home of New Orleans International Airport) when I started my escort service; it’s one of those little suburban towns (like Arlington, Texas or the various suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) which has a narcissistic obsession with its own self-importance.  This comment on the online story says it all:

No he shouldn’t resign.  And I disagree with those who say this is a personal matter- they should publicly embrace his behavior.  This man, who imagines someone wants to see his stout belly in a wife-beater in a grainy photo- this man EPITOMIZES Kenner.  He is the ultimate expression of that city, the living symbol of its values and class, and should be its next mayor.  Perhaps one day they’ll, um, erec- make that, construct- a statute of this photo outside City Hall.  Here’s to you, Mr. Stocky Half-Naked Kenner City Council Guy.

OK, Sure

Words fail me.

A 21-year-old woman from North London has spent thousands of dollars on surgical procedures to look like a drag queen.  Collagen Westwood told The Daily Mail she’s thrilled if she gets mistaken for a man dressing up as a woman.  “I’ve admired drag queens since I was a little girl,” she said.  “They’re glamorous and beautiful — what woman wouldn’t want to look like that?  I have a couple of different wigs that I wear when I go out, and people are always assuming I’m a transvestite.  I love it when people mistake me for a man.  It doesn’t offend me — I think drag queens look fantastic.”  Westwood has had her lips plumped and her nose straightened and says she plans to have some ribs removed so she can fit into smaller corsets.  She said she counts Dead or Alive singer Pete Burns as one of her idols.

A few random thoughts:

“Collagen”?  Ummmm….no.

“Glamorous and beautiful”?  Obviously, she and I aren’t thinking of the same drag queens.

“What woman wouldn’t want to look like that?”  {raises hand}

Westwood wants to be mistaken for a man, but since drag queens want to be referred to as “she”, which pronoun does Westwood use?

But no matter how outré I think this is, and no matter how much I think she’ll regret it in ten years or so, I insist that she has a right to do as she pleases with her own body, money and life.  Of course, I also have the right to mock her for it.

Another Small Victory

It is my stated position that decriminalization in the U.S. will arrive via judicial fiat, just as abortion and other sexual rights did; the political establishment won’t even let the issue onto the table, and prohibitionists dump millions per year into confusing the public with “sex trafficking” hysteria and myths about pimps, disease and “degradation of women”.  But courts aren’t supposed to take public opinion into account when considering issues of individual rights, and many (perhaps even a growing number) do not.  This story from July 6th tends to support my view:

A federal appeals court today ruled that the United States cannot force organizations…to “denounce” prostitution…as a condition for applying for or using U.S. international HIV and AIDS funding…The court found that the “prostitution pledge” or “anti-prostitution loyalty oath,” as it came to be known, was not constitutional because it compels organizations to adopt and espouse a government viewpoint, and that “[c]ompelling speech as a condition of receiving a government benefit cannot be squared with the First Amendment…because it requires recipients to take the government’s side on a particular issue.  It is well established that viewpoint-based intrusions on free speech offend the First Amendment.”

The pledge was originally inserted by…Congressman Chris Smith as an amendment to the 2003 U.S. Global Leadership Act Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria…as ultimately interpreted by the Bush Administration…the pledge required organizations to promise not to “promote or support prostitution” while implementing U.S.-funded programs…The Obama Administration, to the dismay of public health and human rights advocates, has kept the pledge in force.

The pledge…was and has continued to be criticized by the global public health and human rights communities for a number of reasons.  Among other problems, the language of the pledge is incredibly vague and does not effectively define what constitutes “promoting” prostitution…programs recognized around the world for their successes in working with marginalized populations such as sex workers…have been de-funded…[and] health workers [became] quasi-law enforcement agents, undoing years of work building trust among vulnerable populations…[the pledge] prevented U.S. organizations…from supporting the efforts of sex worker collectives to promote universal condom use, safe sex practices, to defend themselves against police violence and corruption, or to fight to secure their basic human rights…the ruling, while a critical step forward… applies only to U.S. non-profit groups and does not lift the pledge requirements from international…NGOs in other countries…

A small victory to be sure, but I think an important one; it’s another stone in the growing pile which will form the foundation of sex worker rights in the United States.

One Year Ago Today

My column for July 16th, 2010 was the first of a two-part column on couple calls, those in which an escort entertains an established (married or dating) couple.  If you haven’t read it already I think you’ll be interested, and the third picture is probably one of the cutest I’ve ever included in this blog.

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