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Archive for October, 2020

Halloween 2020

Happy Halloween, dear readers, and Blessed Be!

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Dead On Arrival

Here’s a fun little Halloween game; y’all can play in the comment thread or on Twitter as you prefer.  How many TV shows can you think of in which one of the main characters is already dead by the end of the first episode?  Characters who appear only occasionally don’t count; it has to be regular screen appearances.  Obviously, shows which have vampire characters such as Dark Shadows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood and The Munsters are included, as are ghost characters like Merlyn Temple in American Gothic, Captain Daniel Gregg in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and “Slimer” in the cartoon series The Real Ghostbusters (and since we’re allowing cartoons, half the cast of The Groovie Goolies qualifies).  But there are also science-fiction versions of undead, such as Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf or Alex Murphy in Robocop, and wholly-mortal characters whose deaths set events in motion and thereafter regularly appear in flashbacks, such as Master Po in Kung Fu and Laura Palmer (mostly in photos) in Twin Peaks.  I asked Grace to play yesterday and she came up with Georgia Lass and her fellow Grim Reapers in Dead Like Me; several characters in Glitch, Resurrection and The Returned; Ezekiel Stone in Brimstone; Olivia Moore of iZombie; Sheila Hammond of Santa Clarita Diet; and Kieren Walker of In the Flesh.  I’ll bet there are plenty of others, though; how many can you name?

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Back Issue #88

Prostitution is to my knowledge the only “crime” which is entirely defined by its motive.  –  “Lack of Evidence

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McCain and her ilk…never let facts get in the way of a good moral panic.  –  Julianna Piccillo

So Close and Yet So Far

Yes, sex workers are more likely to experience violence and coercion under Swedish criminalization than under most legalization regimes, including the British model which was used in Northern Ireland until the Swedish model was imposed there.  However, these sex workers are still adults and still capable of adult decision-making; they are not “children”, “victims”, “slaves” or whatever other fashionable dysphemim one cares to apply to them without their consent.  So if you’re a reporter who thinks you’re “helping” sex workers by calling attention to this increased violence, yet insist on calling their work “modern slavery”, I suggest you find something different to write about.

Honored in the Breach

A reminder that you shouldn’t let anyone shame you for refusing to vote:

Don’t Call It Trafficking (#911) 

Remember, this isn’t “human trafficking”, but consensual sex is:

Lawyers appointed by a federal judge to identify migrant families who were separated by the Trump administration say they have yet to track down the parents of 545 children, and that approximately two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central America without their children…Unlike the 2,800 families separated under [Trump’s] zero tolerance [policy] in 2018, most of whom remained in c[ages] when zero tolerance was ended…many of the more than 1,000 parents separated from their children under the [2017] pilot program had already been deported before a federal judge in California ordered they be found…

The Implosion Begins

The schadenfreude is so sweet, it almost hurts my teeth:

The Arizona…Republic‘s scribes outdid themselves recently in a piece comparing [“Cuckoo Clock” McCain]’s many years of peddling the moral panic of sex trafficking, to the…[fantasy] known as QAnon, which posits that a worldwide ring of Democratic elites sells minors for sex while feasting on the flesh of infants and undermining the presidency of Donald J. Trump.  Due to the rise of QAnon…anti-trafficking [profiteers] worry…there will be less [money to] support…the [rescue industry]…In other words, it’s a turf war, with all these unwashed newbies attempting to usurp the anti-trafficking throne currently inhabited by the widow of the late warmonger, Senator John McCain…the McCain Institute issued a statement condemning QAnon, while Cindy McCain took QAnon to task on Twitter for its “lies”…Talk about projection.  Aided and abetted, time and again, by mainstream news outlets, Cindy McCain has spread dangerous misinformation and myths about sex trafficking, citing debunked statistics, prevaricating about her own experiences, and falling back on racist tropes — all in a narcissistic bid to maintain her media profile…

Torture Chamber (#1066)

“Detention center” is just another euphemism for “prison”, and that means rape:

…since 2017, at least 265 calls…have reported violence and abuse inside California’s four…federal detention centers…Half [reported] sex crimes, including rape, sexual assault and abuse against detainees.  The rest were to report assault, battery and other threats of violence against [prisoners, mostly by] staff.  In only three cases…[was] a suspect…charged…and…[only] one…is pending.  [Since] prosecutors [a]re…[un]likely to pursue cases…what [has] emerged is…a system in which violence can be perpetuated against [prisoners] with impunity, [especially] by…[screws.  Prisoners a]re banned from calling 911…and forced to rely on [screws] to report a[ttacks by other screws]…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1066)

Turning the police state’s own weapons against it:

…[because cops sent to suppress protests] are…tap[ing] over their name[s]…individuals…are…researching how to build a facial recognition product that could defeat [cop]s’ attempts to [hide] their identity…The authorities targeted so far have not been pleased.  The New York Times reported in July 2019 that Colin Cheung, a protester in Hong Kong, had developed a tool to identify [cops] using online photos of them.  After he posted a video about the project on Facebook, he was arrested…This month, the artist Paolo Cirio published photos of 4,000 faces of French [cops] online for an exhibit called “Capture,” which he described as the first step in developing a facial recognition app.  He…[was forced to take] the photos down after France’s interior minister threatened legal action but said he hoped to republish them…Last month, Andrew Maximov…uploaded a video to YouTube that demonstrated how facial recognition technology could be used to digitally strip away [cops’] masks….[but] it’s unclear if the matches are accurate…

I’m skeptical this will work if the cops wear balaclavas, as they so often do.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1071)

At least a few reporters seem to be beginning to get it:

…While Traffickinghub presents itself as “a non-religious, non-partisan effort,” the organizing force behind it is neither…the organization running the…campaign…is Exodus Cry, a far-right Evangelical group “prayed” into existence in a Missouri church, with the goal of abolishing the commercial sex industry entirely.  When Exodus Cry first emerged in 2007, it was little more than a weekly prayer group hosted by a man named Benjamin Nolot at the charismatic Christian enclave known, incredibly, as the International House of Prayer, or IHOP…In recent years, the group has transitioned into a new form of advocacy: making [fak]umentaries.  Their cinematic work has yielded Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution…about the [supposed] dangers of youth hook-up culture; [and] Seattle Bikini Baristas, about how “behind the intrigue of lingerie and java lurks a darker side”…IHOP (which was actually sued by the pancake chain in 2010 for trademark infringement; the case was later dropped)…[also stoked] the homophobia that led to Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality ActIHOP later rejected the association, but the church’s founder, Mike Bickle, has…claimed that…the “gay marriage agenda” is “rooted in the depths of Hell,” that Adolf Hitler was a “hunter” sent by God to punish the Jews, and that Oprah Winfrey is a footservant to the Antichrist

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Diary #539

This week ends, of course, with my birthday!  I’ve already received one gift, a copy of the Nicholas Cage version of Lovecraft’s The Color Out of Space (from reader Vanguardcdk), and I think something else is on the way from another reader because it’s missing from my Amazon wishlist (and thank you both!)  If you, too, would like to get me something, I’ve arranged the list in order of ascending price, so you can find the right point for your budget!  I’m out at Sunset this week, so anything you send will await my return a week from Friday; my landlord and neighbor are both dears about keeping an eye out for packages and putting them safely on my desk.  Speaking of desks, I’ve started getting my office at Sunset together; Chekhov has built himself a set of bookshelves, so we were able to move all of his books out to the cottage.  And that cleared space in the hall closet for everything that doesn’t fit in our smallish kitchen pantry, plus emptied out my office for me to fully move into.  Maybe I’ll buy myself a desk for my birthday present; after all, even if the weather slows down my improvements outside, that doesn’t mean I can’t go back to fixing up the inside.

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I’ve always been dedicated to the idea of this as the time of year for spooky fun.  So every year I collect all the spooky, creepy or scary content from the previous year into one place just before Halloween.  If you’ve come to my blog in the past year, or don’t remember previous editions, they are “Trick or Treat”, “More Trick or Treat“, “Tricks and Treats“, “This Trick’s a Treat”, “Tricky Treats“, “A Trickle of Treats”, and “Tricking and Treating“.  Horror, death or Halloween-themed columns of the past year include “Diary #489“, “The Shaver Connection“, “No Explanation“, and the short story “Let There Be Dark“; there are creepy or spooky-fun videos in Links #486#487#509, #530, and #537; and here’s a collection of spooky or Halloweeny links:

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Eventually, all of us are food for fungi.  –  Brian Lovett

This week’s timely video was provided by Mistress Matisse, and the links above it by Cop Crisis, Jesse WalkerI Am Curious Blue, PopehatAmy Alkon, Chekhov, and Cop Crisis again, in that order.

From the Archives

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They could give us condoms, but instead they offer us thoughts and prayers.  –  Thierry Schaffauser

Here We Go Again 

“Sex trafficking” propaganda has always been deeply racist:

There w[as] once [propaganda] that Chinese restaurants corrupted young, innocent women, leading them down a dark path of opium addiction and prostitution.  Several [prohibitionist organizations] spread this myth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries…the Boston Journal, November 1, 1903 [panted]…“The picture of a girl’s ruination through the medium of the Chinese restaurant is too horrible to depict…The Chinese restaurant is doubtless the most degrading phase of the great social evil…The suppression of the Chinese restaurant would mean the salvation of thousands of girls annually in America”…in January 1910,  [politician] John L. Donovan…filed a bill to prohibit women from entering Chinese restaurants unless they were over 21 years old and accompanied by a non-Chinese man…the bill was [of course] unconstitutional…[and] thus…rejected…but…[brought] forward once again [a year later with support from a prohibitionist]…doctor…William F. Boos[, who fantasized]…“More than 10% of the doctors of the United States, as well as many of their wives and many trained nurses, are addicted to the use of morphine, and numbers of Boston young women who patronize Chinese restaurants, because of a taste for chop suey and other characteristic Chinese dishes, end by becoming confirmed opium smokers in Chinese dives”…

Chop suey causes “sex trafficking”!

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Ever notice how often predatory cops’ targets are underage?

A Los Angeles [cop named]…Miguel Cabrera…met an[other cop fantasy role-playing]…as a 17-year-old girl on a mobile dating app [o]n…Oct. 21, 2019…Cabrera…[h]as [been] on [paid vacation for the past year]…

Deafening Silence (#427)

Commies are still enamored of the fantasy that sex work magically vanishes under communism:

…prostitution…was outlawed in…[East Germany], which referred to it as a “criminal refusal to take part in socialist life.” And to enforce the crackdown, the party looked to the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police force, which had 91,000 full-time staff and twice as many unofficial informants.  And yet…prostitution still existed…everywhere, all the time, with the knowledge, tacit agreement and even encouragement of the state and party leadership.  And as Axel Nixdorf reveals in his new documentary, Prostitution in the GDR: Socialism, Stasi, Sex, it not only brought in foreign currency, but also knowledge and power that could be used against individual citizens…certain hotels were an absolute market for sex — if you were paying with foreign currency, that is…In the harbor town of Rostock, the Free German Federation of Trade Unions ran the International Sailors’ Club, wh[ere]…only sailors with a valid shore pass — and women, of course — would be allowed entry to the establishment.  For Rostock historian Steffi Brüning, that is a clear sign that the state knew exactly what was going on at the club…

The Course of a Disease (#953)

Good long read on the havoc wrought by Swedish criminalization in France:

…[in] April 2016 [France imposed a prohibitionist regime based in Swedish criminalization, which]…is…why [Vanessa] Campos was working in a place where she could easily be killed…While sex work has taken place at the Bois de Boulogne for decades, it used to primarily occur on the outskirts of the woods –closer to other sex workers and roads full of light…When Campos died, many European countries paid attention to her murder.  France didn’t.  Despite the European sex worker community’s outrage and the clear line they drew between the law and her murder, only one French politician even bothered to comment…In the six months between June and December 2019 at least 10 sex workers were killed in France.  That’s double the already startling rate of one sex worker death per month that France had in 2014…the majority of France’s sex workers, multiple healthcare associations, and influential NGOs like Médecins du Monde [blame the law,] yet…the…official assessment of the legislation…[includes] not a single page…[on] how the law has affected sex workers at all…

Social Distancing (#1042)

Indian activists battle prohibitionism disguised as “public health”:

…the National Human Rights Commission [of India] has urged the government to recognise sex workers as informal sector workers and provide them access to welfare benefits.  The NHRC’s recommendation came in its “Advisory on Rights of Women” issued…as part of a series…in the wake of Covid-19…lockdown[s which]…led to a sudden loss of employment, particularly in the informal sector with no alternate sources of money, food or shelter and it has “disproportionately affected” women who comprise a substantial proportion of such workers…HIV positive sex workers are unable to access antiretroviral therapy…which are essential for their survival and many sex workers are outside the purview of government schemes as they lack identity documents…

Disqualified (#1077)

A look at Hacking/Hustling’s report on shadowbanning:

Shadowbans are complicated, in part because they don’t just impact marginalized users…the term itself gained mainstream prominence after President Donald Trump tweeted about it.  Nor are social media platforms transparent about their shadowbanning process, making it difficult to verify when a user is shadowbanned and when they aren’t.  So what are sex workers up against, and how are shadowbans impacting the American public at large?  The answer is as urgent as it is complex…

The Implosion Begins

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Bathhouse 22

It took us six weeks, but we’ve finally got all the materials for our roof on the way!  I was hoping to have the roof up before the rain came again, but Trump’s silly trade war made that impossible; metal building components are hard to find here already (I reckon they’re just not as popular in Washington as in drier climes), and the tariffs made the ones that were available insultingly expensive.  But we found some leads a few weeks ago, and with the help of a generous gent I was able to shove money around to clear enough space on my credit cards to buy what I needed (if anyone else wants to volunteer to help me pay that, please do).  We got the structural steel a month ago, then this week I ordered the cee purlins (crossmembers which support the roof panels) from a place in Phoenix and the roof panels themselves from a place near Knoxville, Tennessee; today Chekhov is picking up the heavy-walled pipe we’re using for the support posts.  Since the stuff from other states is coming via freight, it’ll probably be late November before it arrives; that’s OK because it won’t be needed until the roof structure is in place, and Grace will be welding the trusses together in her shop.  Since we’ll have to work around the rain, phase four will probably go slowly; we figure it may take until the beginning of spring.  But then we’ll have shelter from the rain, so the walls should go relatively quickly afterward.  For the time being, expect about two updates a month; let’s hope the progress speeds up again in March!

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Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”
  –  John Greenleaf Whittier

On looking back at my life and pondering the various forks in the road when I might have chosen another path than the one I actually did, I have realized that I cannot agree with Whittier’s famous lines.  While might-have-beens are indeed often sad on the surface, I find that (in my own life, at least) deeper reflection usually reveals that what actually happened was really better in the long run than what might have.  Nor does it matter whether the choice I made was a free one, a constrained one, or a forced one; over and over again, the place I ended up was really better for me (and often for others) than the alternative.  The most obvious example was the chain of events which led me to sex work; though I hadn’t originally planned on making it my full-time profession, none of the others I considered would have given me all the blessings sex work has, nor allowed me to do as much good in the world.  Another is childlessness; though I was unable to have kids rather than unwilling, it’s still for the best that I didn’t.  Some of the rough spots in the past 30 years would have been dramatically more difficult with a child to worry about instead of just myself, and it’s a virtual certainty the government (and possibly even my own family) would have weaponized my children against me.  Though I still feel sad when I think about losing all the work I did building my ranch in Oklahoma, it’s clear that my current situation is much better for me, for Grace, and for too many others to list.  Though my parting from Matt left a wound that will never completely heal, both of us are probably better off as friends than as spouses.  And though I could never have recognized or admitted it when I was younger, it’s really for the best that I avoid romantic partnerships entirely.  My lacking the wherewithal to hire an agent and endure the ordinary publishing process so my books would have better distribution than via self-pulishing?  Yeah, that was probably for the best, too.  Even my abstaining from intoxicants until six years ago produced the best possible outcome; though some people might regret losing all those years of possible exploration, I realize that sobriety was much better for me both emotionally and economically until I reached a level of maturity conducive to wise, responsible use.  I’m sure I could think of a dozen other examples, but I think you get the point; though I am far too cynical to believe that I live in the best of all possible worlds, I have of late been forced to grudgingly admit that, whether by chance or fate, I have somehow managed to play the best possible game with the hand I was dealt.

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