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Archive for September, 2020

The law punishes sex workers…and…turns us into criminals.  –  Mai Junta

The Immunity Syndrome (#318)

Don’t try to imagine this in the US; you’ll overload your brain:

On a stage…in Copenhagen stood five adults in bathrobes…Facing [an audience of] children…they stood completely naked, like statues, with their hands and arms folded behind their backs.  And so began a recording of the latest episode of an award-winning Danish children’s program, Ultra Strips Down, which is shown on…the…children’s channel…the program is meant as an educational tool to fight body shaming and encourage body positivity…The program is now in its second season, and…is highly popular in Denmark…[except for the usual puritan minority.  Most] Danes believe children should not be shielded from the realities of life…

Dysphemisms Galore 

When the topic is sex, Philippine reporters seem even less able than most to write In normal adult sane-person language:

With nightclubs closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus…there has been a dearth of customers for commercial sex workers, according to [Iloilo City’s] Task Force on Morals and Values Formation.  Suffering a heavy economic beating from the pandemic, this city’s prostituted women and men…have left, said task force chief Nestor Canong…Workers in the flesh trade were suddenly faced an awful choice between livelihood and health…[blah blah] sex workers…spread…[disease]…

What kind of mind thinks a busybody brigade called “Task Force on Morals and Values” would have anything worthwhile to say about people whose lives are so alien to them they need to make up silly fantasies about them?

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#1017)

Thai sex worker activists are made of awesome:

Sex workers in Thailand have launched a petition calling for prostitution to be decriminalised and urging authorities to remove all penalties for selling sex.  Empower Foundation…said it hoped to collect 10,000 signatures and present the petition to parliament…More than 1,000 people had signed the petition [in its first three days]…activists say the current law, which made prostitution illegal in 1960, [harms]…sex workers…w[ith] repeated arrests and fines [that]…drive…them further into poverty.  The women’s affairs department at Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security said it was in the process of amending the prostitution law and would launch an online public hearing next year, without giving further details…

Disqualified

A report by Hacking/Hustling on shadowbans and similar policies:

Content moderation, censorship, and shadowbanning facilitate sex worker erasure and normalize the digital and physical oppression of sex working and [activist] communities.  Sex workers are disproportionately losing access to social media platforms, having bank accounts seized, being banned from major payment processors, and being used as test subjects for facial recognition databases…This research shows how communities are negatively impacted by content moderation practices, and how surveillance technologies disrupt their ability to both earn an income and organize…

All-Purpose Excuse (#1063)

Trumpists are completely taking control of the “sex trafficking” narrative:

…the federal government is awarding more than $100 million in grants to target [migrants and sex workers for increased persecution using the same old excuse of] human trafficking.  The money will [mostly] go to [vice cops]…and…[prisons.  Attorney General William] Barr made the announcement…with pr[ohibitionist] Ivanka Trump and [infantilized sex workers as] “boys and girls”…

Loose Cannons (#1068)

Of course, the non-wealthy victims of this illegal surveillance still had their lives ruined:

After nearly two years, Florida prosecutors are finally giving up on prosecuting…Robert Kraft for [consensual sex]…Florida cops had pretended to be hunting a “human trafficking” ring in order to get a warrant for the secret surveillance cameras…authorities went forward with the “trafficking” lie…and…a…local sheriff called the [arrest of adult women]…”a rescue operation”…now, those “rescued” women may be the only ones still in legal trouble…Hua Zhang, the 59-year-old owner of Orchids of Asia…41-year-old Lei Wang…and…60-year-old Shen Mingbi…[are still] charged with…[various] prostitution[-rated “crimes”]…Zhang and Wang [were] also [robbed by cops using “asset forfeiture” laws]…

Tissue of Lies

Looks like Michael Hobbes has joined the debunkers’ club:

The biggest problem, I’ve found, is the definition of “child sex trafficking” itself. Under the law, anyone under 18 who trades sex for money, drugs, a place to stay or anything else of value is a victim of trafficking.  They don’t have to be recruited by a pimp, moved across state lines or forced into prostitution.  A homeless runaway having sex with some sleazeball in exchange for a warm bed is a tragedy, but it’s a less salacious one than the Taken myths that trafficking memes circulating on social media imply…The internet is awash in exaggerated, misleading and downright fabricated numbers about how many children are forced into the sex trade every year.  This is my attempt to debunk all the false trafficking numbers…

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Diary #535

Leveling the floor of my house has been a long, slow process, but we’re finally beginning to make some discernible progress.  Every Sunday we use a laser level to take readings across the entire length of the house; when we started the drop between the highest and lowest points on the floor was almost four inches, and now it’s less than 2.75 inches.  But as we’ve worked on remodeling, we’ve come to realize that at least some of that drop has more to do with the fact that the property slopes down toward the east, and the low point is on the east end; in other words, the original owners (who built the house themselves in 1927) don’t seem to have concerned themselves with whether it was level or not!  The house is sturdy enough, but there are many places where walls are not exactly square or plumb, so it stands to reason the floor probably wasn’t properly level to start with; everything seems to have been “eyeballed”.  Given this information, we’ve decided to worry less about whether the floor is truly level and more about whether it’s straight and strong.  Accordingly, we’ve reversed the direction of measurement; whereas before three weeks ago we set the laser up on the living room floor and shot toward the back door, we’re now setting up on the lower level of the deck immediately outside the back door (which we know to be level since we built it ourselves) and shooting to a laser target set up in the living room.  That way, we eliminate the possibility that the floor under the laser tripod might also be moving, and thus introucing error into the measurements.  On Sunday, I asked our hired man to go under the house and crawl toward the living room (the oldest part of the house) to be sure there were no other bad places that we couldn’t detect from above; he returned with this rotten timber.  Fortunately, it was the only bad one he saw, and he said it was obvious it had been poorly placed to start with; all the others appeared sound, and the beam the timber was supporting does not appear to be sagging yet.  So the next time he comes out, we’re going to have him replace it with a steel support just in case, and after we get the bad spot where we want it (we’re improving by about 1/8” per week now), we’ll fill in the area beneath it with a concrete pedestal so that nothing short of a major earthquake can mess it up again.

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The censor-morons are loose, and they’re attacking the small targets so their totalitarian masters can expend their energy on big ones like the internet.  –  “The Return of the Censor

Censorship, once condemned by all ethical people, has now become almost universally popular.  From the most totalitarian of governments down to the youngest of adults, it seems everybody without a functional moral compass (which is to say, the great majority) wants to impose their ideas of “right” thinking and “correct” speech on everyone else.  China, of course, is leading the way, with a new Maoist-type campaign to purge schools and libraries of books deemed insufficiently pure, but the West isn’t far behind.  In the UK, cops are knocking on doors to intimidate people who made statements online that the cops didn’t like, and early this month a woman in Melbourne was actually arrested for posting on Facebook about a protest against totalitarian “lockdown” orders imposed by the Victorian government.  In the US, the pandemic is only one of many popular excuses for censorship; others include “hate speech”, criticizing the police, and (for social media platforms) either engaging in censorship on their own or not censoring often enough for the tastes of censors.  I know that last is confusing, so let me state it a different way:  Some politicians and other control freaks want to censor Facebook, Twitter, et al for engaging in censorship themselves, while others want to censor the same entities for not censoring enough.  Yes, it’s complete lunacy, and it isn’t limited to the internet; culture warriors in academia, Hollywood, and even corporate America are firing,expelling, or otherwise ostracizing people for engaging in wrongthink, or even for failing to chant approved party slogans with sufficient enthusiasm.

When I was a librarian, Banned Books Week was little more than an academic exercise; censorship was an intermittent and generally impotent threat proceeding from small numbers of narrow-minded busybodies, which was easily defeated by librarians and other guardians of our shared cultural heritage.  But that was a generation ago, and would-be censors have become numerous, aggressive, well-organized and (most concerningly) popular.  Few of those under 30 even understand what free speech is or why it’s important, and the majority or those over that age imagine all sorts of exceptions that they believe should be reasons to violently suppress speech, ranging from “it hurt my feelings”, to “it was said or written by a dead person who did things considered normal then, but which are now mortal sins”, to “it contains ‘bad’ words”, to the ever-popular “But SEX!”  As I wrote last year, the censor-morons (a term coined by D.H. Lawrence, one of many writers now considered “problematic”) are loose; furthermore, they are multiplying like bacteria and have already infested all the centers of power.  For now, the courts are mostly still defending the rights of those with enough money, resources, and patience to fight “cancellation” through official channels.  But if you will take the time to read all of my essays for this occasion starting in 2012, and working your way up a year at a time to the present, I think you’ll see a very frightening trend.  We are watching the advent of a new dark age, and in such times no light is entirely safe from being snuffed out by zealots, speech-cops and bureaucrats whose ideal model for human society is the anthill.

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If a prisoner of war were treated this way, it would be a war crime.  –  Erik Heipt

I don’t recall being terribly impressed with this song when it was first out, but I recently stumbled across the video and now I keep thinking about it; maybe it’s the sort of thing one needs to be middle-aged to appreciate.  The links above it were provided by Tana Ganeva, Clarissa, Mark Draughn, Scott Greenfield, Cop Crisis, and Jesse Walker, in that order.

From the Archives

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If your fantasies offend the police…you can be destroyed.  –  Marty Klein

Tales from the Dark Side

In a world where prosecution for thoughtcrime has become a grim reality, it might be wise to restrict such discussions to fully-anonymized online accounts“:

…You are NOT free to fantasize about sex that is illegal.  If you do, and you’re caught, you will have to prove you do not actually want to do those things.  This is almost impossible…if two people email or text about [ageplay]…and the digital trail falls into the hands of the police, the person playing the adult role in the fantasy could be in big trouble…There are police departments in every state with units devoted to finding people who fantasize online about adult-child sex.  They have huge budgets and almost unlimited power.  These [cops] are going undercover in ADULT chatrooms…looking for people to arrest…they invite the hobbyist—whom they [pretend]is a predatory criminal—to meet for…legal sex….[with] an adult…[and when] he does…he is arrested for allegedly intending to have sex with a child

The Maze of Consent

An excellent essay on the deeply misogynistic basis of modern “consent” dogma:

…the notion that sexual contact is degrading to women has become wrapped up in the contemporary progressive language of trauma and consent…For all its protestations about how hot consent can be, the progressive discourse surrounding sex is markedly unsexy.  Amid the obsession with power, oppression and the ever present threat of harm, the notion of desire (or, heaven forbid, fun) all but disappears…This laser-focus on consent effectively recasts sex itself as a dangerous act, to be undertaken with extreme caution and only if absolutely necessary…men are increasingly seen as predators almost by default, while women are cast as helpless, even infantile.  (Witness the rise of the word “grooming,” previously reserved for sexual predation of children, as something done to women in their twenties)…young people are now being taught to expect absolute emotional safety in sex, love and courtship at all times—and that if they feel hurt, disappointed or betrayed, it means they’ve been violated…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#831)

“Legalization” of sex work always features weird, arbitrary laws written by obsessive bureaucrats:

Toronto will no longer force workers at body rub parlours to keep their doors unlocked—a win for sex worker safety…Toronto bylaws prohibited…parlours…from keeping their doors locked, so that inspectors could [barge in at will and without warning]…the rules [predictably] led to thefts, abuse, and even death..By locking doors, workers are now able to screen people entering their businesses…In February, Ashley Arzaga…was [murdered] by a 17-year-old man who entered her North York spa with a machete…60 avoidable robberies targeted body rub parlours [in the past year]…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (#991)

Laws are for the peasantry, not the rulers:

The preferential treatment afforded to [Randal] Woolery wasn’t mentioned in the de[ferential coverage by bootlicking media like the Seattle Times]…But [it was sharply criticized in The Honest Courtesan] and…[now that the] public…[is clamoring for greater] police accountability…the [mainstream media are finally getting around to talking about it almost a year later]…Unlike the four other men arrested in the sting that night, Woolery avoided having…an “embarrassing situation” fully videotaped…The p[ig] also wasn’t taken in handcuffs to a [filthy sty] to await booking…[and] didn’t spend any time behind bars that [or any other] night…Woolery…has been [on paid vacation ever since, with]…his case [conveniently] postponed [using the excuse of] the coronavirus pandemic…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1016) 

Why I keep telling you local laws banning surveillance technology are feel-good bullshit:

The Los Angeles Police Department has used facial-recognition software nearly 30,000 times since 2009, with hundreds of [pigs rooting through]…a massive database of mugshots [in search of people to pin “crimes” on]…the LAPD has consistently denied having records related to facial recognition, and at times denied using the technology at all.  The truth is that, while it does not have its own facial-recognition platform, LAPD personnel have access to facial-recognition software through a regional database maintained by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  And [were that database banned, they could simply fall back on secret resources such as FITlist]…

Dangerous Speech (#1031)

A judge reverses one iota of the government’s persecution of two journalists:

The FBI [was] recently [forced to] return…scores of personal possessions belonging to veteran newspapermen Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin as the result of a judge’s finding that the bureau violated their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure when it…raided the men’s homes at gunpoint two years ago…Judge Susan Brnovich found that certain categories of items listed in the FBI’s 2018 warrant applications were “impermissibly vague”…the FBI’s warrant affidavit sought “evidence of wealth” from January 1, 2010 to the date of the search.  “Nothing suggests that Lacey and Larkin’s homes were filled solely with items obtained solely from illegal proceeds or to suggest that Backpage.com was being run out of their homes,” Brnovich writes. “Both individuals were successful and wealthy before 2010.”  And yet, prosecutors have contended that Lacey and Larkin’s affluence was wholly derived from the alleged crimes of conspiracy, money laundering and the facilitation of prostitution through the online listings giant Backpage.com, which the two men sold in 2015…

Quiet Genocide (#1058)

Oh look, someone in Hollywood appears to have grown a spine:

Judd Apatow is refusing to let Hollywood off the hook for allowing itself to be censored in…China in order to reap financial rewards…the…director said studios would shoot him down if he ever pitched a movie about a man who escapes Chinese concentration camps…Disney has recently come under fire for filming part of its live-action Mulan film in Xinjiang and using the film’s end credits to thank [the Communist propaganda ministry for]…the region…In addition to censoring content, Hollywood studios have also included China-friendly content in certain films in order to guarantee a theatrical release in the country…When filmmakers take a stand against China (see Quentin Tarantino refusing to edit out the Bruce Lee scene in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), their films are blocked from the country and risk losing a significant percentage of their box office…

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Bathhouse 19

Last week was mostly a lot of prep work and what one might call “invisible improvements”. On Wednesday I bought the steel we’re going to build the roof structure from, then over the next few days we were occupied with getting ready to switch over to the new, improved and expanded, main power system.  Under Grace’s direction I ran the main cables to the shop and Jae’s cottage, put in the junction boxes under Jae’s floor, and wired up the outlets for both cottages; I also helped Chekhov move into his cottage, braced a few sections of the deck that were flexing more than I liked, and finished up several other small tasks, none of which would really show up in a picture.  But when our hired man finished the task of applying roof sealant on the shop and garage buildings, I let Jae borrow him to start rebuilding her yurt in its new location north of the house.  For comparison with other pictures, that’s Chekhov’s cottage in the foreground and the outside wall of the original house at left; the area where all the wood is lying is going to be the new bathroom, and there will be an exit door with a ramp just a little to the right of where you can see that extension cord.  We’ve had a lot of rain this week, so we mostly did more indoor prep work.  But if the weather forecast is correct, tomorrow is going to be dry enough to do the big switchover, and we’ll at last be able to get those annoying overhead conduits (they’re visible in several of the pictures) out of our way before we move on to building the roof.

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Back Issue #87

The fact that a cherished tenet of dogma is demonstrably false never stops True Believers from instilling it indelibly into the public consciousness by endless repetition.  –  “Ban the Super Bowl!

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Are we also going to ban [picking] peppers and asparagus?
–  Niels van den Berge

License to Rape

Police states define the bodies of all citizens as “crime scenes” which can be violated by “authorities” at will:

Denver police are [trying to cover up the rape of]…a man [who] was [an]ally [raped by a cop] while being arrested at a protest.  [Cops charged] Michael Jacobs…with disarming a police officer…[claiming] he violently resisted arrest and tried to disarm [his rapist] of a pepper ball gun…[in actuality the cop] used his…nightstick [to rape him]…Jacobs…otained a rape kit following the arrest…a doctor evaluated him two weeks after the incident, finding “rectal and anal hemorrhage”…

Torture Chamber (#997) 

Serial rape is just one of the fringe benefits afforded to screws in Florida:

…[screws] repeatedly sexually assaulted and [raped] the inmates at the…Coleman [cage stack] in [Florida]…In some cases…the [rapes went on regularly] for years…Six of the [rapists] admitted to [serially raping prisoners] but…were not prosecuted — instead, they were allowed to resign or retire, and some are still receiving benefits…

The Cop Myth (#1004)

41% of cops admit to beating their wives. Some don’t stop with mere beating:

Jay Allen Rotter, a [cop in] Tarrant County [Texas, murdered]…his girlfriend [and then claimed she] had shot herself…Police [tried to cover it up for several weeks before finally arresting]…Rotter…on September 14…

Dutch Threat (#1005)

A good general overview of political attacks on Dutch sex workers contains this welcome news:

…job satisfaction should not play a role in whether you deserve labor rights…In a striking twist [the Green Left Party, which has previously] voted in favour of [laws to register, surveil and control sex workers]…advocated decriminalisation of sex work…the Secretary of State promised to investigate various forms of sex work policy, including the New Zealand model of decriminalisation…such a study has already been done, with one of the most important conclusions being that sex workers should be listened to…

Quiet Genocide (#1023)

Meanwhile, the “enlightened” West just watches as a genocide progresses:

Turkey has been a safe haven for Uighurs fleeing persecution ever since the Chinese Communist Party took control of Xinjiang in 1949 and hosts one of the largest Uighur diaspora populations in the world.  Then came a sudden, unexpected switch…since early 2019, Turkey has arrested hundreds of Uighurs and sent them to deportation centers…Erdogan’s remarkable U-turn has a simple explanation:  His regime and Turkey’s economy are in crisis.  With few other friends, Ankara is counting on Beijing to patch things up…Once seen as a model of democracy and economic development in the region, Turkey is now an authoritarian country…Western companies and investors, once attracted to Turkey’s fast-growing economy and population, are staying away.  China’s appetite for expansion into Western Asia and Europe offers Erdogan a lifeline…China is now Turkey’s second-largest import partner after Russia.  China has invested $3 billion in Turkey between 2016 and 2019 and intends to double that by the end of next year…

The Implosion Begins

I did not foresee that the “sex trafficking” moral panic would implode in such a spectacular and entertaining fashion:

…Rather than enticing new recruits with the promise to unveil…secrets about the…Clintons and Obamas, #SaveOurChildren captures attention with [approved government] statistics about the prevalence of child sex trafficking [which have been endlessly repeated by media like The Guardian], then draws susceptible readers down the rabbit hole of increasingly implausible falsehoods…QAnon [uses the same]…blatantly false beliefs about [sex workers that] Democrats [have conspired with Republicans (and politicians of all parties in most other Western countries) to spread for two decades, then adds extra fantasies about elites] sexually abusing children in order to extract a life-extending chemical from their blood…The #SaveOurChildren version of QAnon has been particularly popular among a new coalition of anti-public-health activists who have been galvanized by the coronavirus pandemic…Facebook’s recommendation algorithm…helped facilitate cross-pollination between…dedicated to anti-vaccine activism, anti-coronavirus lockdowns and QAnon…[which then] infiltrated many online subcultures, including those formed around evangelical Christianity, New Age spiritualism and alternative medicine or “wellness”…

The Widening Gyre (#1074)

It’s fascinating to watch the media flailing against a hysteria they’ve worked for decades to create:

Cuties, which was a hit when it premiered at Sundance last year, tells the story of an 11-year-old girl…who strays from her strict conservative…Muslim upbringing to join a hip-hop dance troupe.  At its essence, Cuties is a coming-of-age narrative and a commentary on social media’s role in sexualizing children, but…[“sex trafficking” fetishists claim] that Cuties and its accompanying marketing materials were evidence of an underage child sex trafficking cabal in Hollywood.  It [i]s the kind of wild-eyed, hysterical allegation that…[for] years…[has] been promoted on…mainstream [media platforms and by] public figures and [profiteer] organizations…[to further a campaign to increase the power of the police state and censor the internet by] fuel[ing public hysteria about a mythical] child sex-trafficking trade…the discourse surrounding Cuties [is further evidence that control over this fantastical narrative has sh]ifted [to] the fringes [from] the mainstream…

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Mabon 2020

The apparent path of the sun will cross the celestial equator southbound at 13:30 UTC today, making this the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and the first of spring in the Southern.  This is the time of harvest, when plans come to fruition; it is also the harbinger of the time of rest, especially for Daughters of Darkness like myself who are exhausted and overstimulated by the long days of summer.  But even if you’re not a fan of the growing gloom, I hope you can enjoy the cooler days and hold summer in your heart while waiting for its return, just as I wait patiently through the long, bright days for the time that best reflects my inner landscape.

Blessed Be!

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Diary #534

Steel has grown steadily more (disproportionate to inflation) expensive in the 18 years I’ve been buying it, but fortunately Grace is good at finding deals.  So we got a reasonable price on the 1100 kilograms of steel we need to build the bathhouse roof structure, provided I was willing to drive a couple of hours and pay cash.  But thanks to my lovely visit with Dr. Quest last week, I had the latter; and thanks to many, many years of long-distance driving, I’m not bothered by the former.  It did occur to me that I’ve never pulled a heavily-laden trailer that far before, nor ever successfully backed a trailer into anyplace, but one does what one must, and our dog Trip was with me for moral support.  I rather enjoyed the reaction I got upon exiting the truck at the steelyard looking like I look, and I enjoyed even more the look on the guys’ faces when they realized I actually knew something about steel.  The return journey was relatively uneventful, though, and my cargo is safely stacked in the garage awaiting fabrication into trusses. And I didn’t even break a nail moving it.

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