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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The wars of the 21st century, unlike their 19th and 20th century counterparts of finite length, will continue on interminably until the Empire waging them is consumed in the flames of its own collective insanity.  –  “War Without End

In the year since my last Armistice Day polemic, the severity of the cracks in the American Empire have become far more evident to everyone who isn’t willfully ignoring them.  As I wrote in “Post-Imperial“,

…whatever prestige the US enjoyed [has been undermined by] the ascension of a mad emperor who has made himself an international laughingstock, burned nearly every bridge, and weakened the economy with a ridiculous trade war; the exposure before the eyes of the world of the violent, racist, authoritarian rot that permeates the entire fascist sytem; the childish bickering and deranged tyrannies of nearly every member of the US political class, trying to one-up each other instead of fulfilling one of the few legitimate functions of government, disaster management; and said government’s shameless funneling of money into the hands of the well-connected on a scale unseen since the collapse of the Ancien Régime…The era of US hegemony is over; it looks, may the gods help us, as though the dominant world political power of the twenties is going to be an empire even more outrageously evil and single-mindedly authoritarian than the US ever was…

Last week, the process of replacing that mad emperor with a senile and more conventionally authoritarian one began, and how exactly that process will unfold is, at the time of this writing, not entirely clear.  But while the antics of the new god-king are likely to be less openly clownish than those of the deposed one, all of the other problems listed in the quote above will remain.  And the wars will go on and on, because as I said a year ago today:

…given the popularity of astonishingly-wasteful military adventurism across the monolithic ruling party naive Americans absurdly refer to as “the political spectrum”, including among those who profess to have better and far more productive ideas for the trillions being flushed down Ares’ toilet, it seems obvious that…a great deal of the impetus for modern warfare, like the impetus for the domestic wars (on drugs, whores, “crime”, etc), comes directly from those reaping profits and gathering political power from the bloodshed…

Furthermore, we can expect most of the voices which have criticized all of this over the past few years to grow silent, as the pretentiously-named “Resistance” evaporates almost as completely as the Bush-era antiwar movement did after the inauguration of Obama, leaving “their guy” free to indulge himself in “empire-building, setting new records for mass deportation, murdering children with flying war robots and using strips of the shredded Constitution to wipe his arse with“.  I say “almost” because it seems at least some of those who describe their beliefs with the silly 18th-century label “left” are at least somewhat more skeptical of Emperor Biden than they were of Emperor Obama, and appear to be at least beginning to comprehend that would-be rulers who choose a jackass as their totem are just as enamored with violence and just as devoted to the principle of “might makes right” as their chums who prefer the totem of a clumsy, lumbering pachyderm.  One way or the other, it’s far too late for the American Empire.  But perhaps those of us who have been sounding the warning for decades may be joined by at least a few extra voices over the next four years.

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Government is at best a barely-necessary evil, and in most cases just a plain evil.  –  “Anarchy?

Every year on this day, following as it does The Day of the Dead, I remind readers that nation-states are, no matter what politicians and other control freaks would like you to believe, every bit as mortal as the humans who create them (albeit somewhat longer-lived on average).  And because the day also falls in close proximity to the US election day, I also use it to remind readers that absolutely no one can be trusted with power over others, and a tyranny which claims legitimacy via the charade of “democratic elections” is no more legitimate than any other because it still claims the “right” to inflict violence upon those who want nothing to do with it and have done nothing to harm anyone.  Nor does the race, gender, sexual orientation, political party or any other characteristic of the power-holders matter; power corrupts, and every last human being is corruptible.  This year, we have seen a greater number of Americans than ever before recognizing that the standing armies created to enforce the arbitrary diktats of sociopathic “leaders” upon their subjects are hopelessly corrupt, evil, and violent, and that their power must be sharply curtailed.  But unfortunately, many well-meaning but naive people will fight to prevent that from happening because they have been brainwashed into fearing what politicians like to call “anarchy”, but is actually nothing of the kind.  Mob violence is not “anarchy”; it is merely a less-organized, less-established form of Might Makes Right, the same principle used to justify every other form of government and policing.  As I wrote two years ago today,

Humans are not yet ready for pure anarchy, and may never be; however, there are functional anarchist societies (I happen to be a member of one), and a small government of strictly-enumerated powers with ironclad guarantees of individual rights is probably the closest we will ever come to a just and incorruptible one…a large part of the problem is that people’s moral perspectives are blighted by a sick infatuation with government, a belief that there are some circumstances in which it’s not only tolerable but desirable to inflict violence on people who have done none to others, in furtherance of some pipe-dream of Utopia…

There is absolutely zero possibility that the United States or any other empire or massive state will ever achieve anything like this, and the empire which will move into the power vacuum left behind by the collapsing US is devoted to exactly the opposite goal.  But it is remotely possible that in the Balkanized North America of the near future, some small independent realm will at least make the attempt.

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Death is what gives life meaning, and fighting excessively against it is as childish and futile as the behavior of a toddler who refuses to let another child take his place on the carousel once his ride is done.  –  “Thanatopsis

Every year on the Day of the Dead I write about the inevitability and goodness of Death.  Yes, I said “goodness”; as I wrote in “Eternity“, “Eternal life wouldn’t be a gift; it would be a horror literally beyond imagining.”  I’ve never been especially afraid of death; part of that is due to the fact that “I was a strange, wild, moody Wednesday Addams of a child, born on Halloween night and fascinated with horror lore and imagery.  Autumn was both my native season and the one in which I felt most comfortable” The rest, of course, was a combination of chronic depression and ruthless pragmatism; for much of my life I endured long periods in which I would have viewed death as a welcome release, and even when I was in a cheerier frame of mind I was still rational enough to recognize that the continuance of life for any given creature requires the regular deaths of countless others.  But it wasn’t until my forties that I started become really philosophical about mortality, and only five years ago did I really start to deeply ponder its spiritual dimension.  The latter development was not merely due to age, though that undoubtedly helped put me in the right headspace; a catalyst was required, and that catalyst was edible cannabis.  I started experimenting with what are typically and not-entirely-correctly called “recreational drugs” near the end of 2014, and though several of them gave me very rewarding experiences with others, it was the psychedelic experiences I had from using largish doses of edible cannabis alone (or more accurately, without human company) that opened the doors to the Infinite and gave me a perspective on death, the soul and my place in Everything which eventually led to a spiritual peace unlike any I had ever known.  I was far from alone; those who refuse to be bound by the Puritanism which has trapped modern humanity in a death-grip have for decades tried to tell everyone else about the healing and mind-expanding power of psychedelic drugs, and since the 1990s studies have increasingly demonstrated the power of such substancies to alleviate depression, PTSD and other mental health issues.  But this is not a new discovery, it is, rather, a rediscovery of truths known to our ancestors millenia ago:

…sacred tripping was not simply a function of prehistoric religious rituals and shamanism, but an integral, even central part, of the world of the ancient Greeks….The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion With No Name, by Brian Muraresku…shows…the centrality of psychedelic use…in an elaborate and mysterious once-in-a-lifetime ceremony at the Temple of Eleusis, a short distance from Athens.  We’ve long known about…the Mysteries…and the rite of passage they offered — because it’s everywhere in the record.  Many leading Greeks and Romans went there, including Plato and Marcus Aurelius…The Greeks and Romans went to Eleusis only once in their lives, like the Muslim hajj, to participate in a nocturnal rite, and were sworn to secrecy as to what went on.  But the constant theme in the ancient literature around this ritual is that it somehow took the sting of death away.  “Death is for mortals no longer an evil, but a blessing” was the phrase attached to it…Historians and classicists have long pondered what this meant and what exactly happened, but all agree that it required drinking a special brew.  And new discoveries of ancient chalices and cups — and new techniques of testing ancient residue — have begun to suggest what made these archaic potions so special…they contained countless herbs and spices and ingredients, among them, critically, elements of ergot, a fungus that infected barley and rye and had potent hallucinogenic effects…Another re-examined excavation in Pompeii found the preserved remains at the bottom of large barrels jars dated to 79 CE:  chemical analysis found it included seeds of cannabis, opium, and hallucinogenic nightshades.  The recipe for the psychedelic brew and the preparation of it was restricted to women, who passed on the secret recipes from mother to daughter, and was the particular preserve of older women.  The effect, we’re told in the sources, was transformative: you saw past life and death, you became unafraid of your own mortality, you gained perspective and inner peace…
When I read this article a few days ago, I wasn’t really surprised; I have long understood that knowledge is cyclic, and many truths are gained, lost, and gained again, not merely on a societal level but in the lives of individuals treading paths new to us, but well-worn by countless others.  And my own life is replete with “coincidences” and “happenstances” which are in actuality nothing but; I see them as the Hand of the Divine, though you of course are free to draw your own conclusions.  I do not have access to the sacred recipe for the transformative cocktail at the center of The Mysteries, and yet I nonetheless have followed in the footsteps of my many-times-great-grandmeres by offering to others the wisdom that mortality is not a thing to fear, but rather a blessing to accept when it comes to us in the fullness of time.

 

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What we really need are safe and legal ways for sex workers to do what millions of Americans depend on them for.  –  Kate Zen

Under Every Bed 

Population 23,639:

…Guardians of the Children hosted a walk and candlelight vigil to raise awareness about child exploitation…[and] human trafficking…[but because North] Platte [Nebraska has no actual “sex trafficking” the members conflated it with]…child abuse [so they could claim at least a few hundred]…cases…

The Widening Gyre (#786)

When a headline writer doesn’t actually read the article first:

…historians offer a…thesis for the purpose QAnon serves.  The “nocturnal ritual fantasy”—a term coined by the historian Norman Cohn in his landmark study of European witch trials, Europe’s Inner Demons—is a recurring trope in Western history.  And it is often a politically useful one.  Deployed by the Romans against early Christians, by Christians against Jews, by Christians against witches, by Catholics against “heretics,” it is a malleable set of accusations that posit that a social out-group is engaged in perverse, ritualistic behaviors that target innocents—and that the out-group and all its enablers must be crushed…

Apparently, New Republic editors are so fixated on the “left-right” fantasy, and the belief that all social evils proceed from “The Right”, that they’re willing to characterize the Romans, the Christians, and the great majority of 1980s and 1990s Americans as “The Right” in order to cram an article into that paradigm.

Guinea Pigs (#955)

Just a reminder that this privacy-destroying abomination started as a means of spying on sex workers:

Palantir…promises t[o]…create clarity and order.  But to deliver, its software needs data — lots of it.  Now, two never-before-seen documents, “Intermediate Course” and “Advanced Course” training manuals, reveal how the Los Angeles Police Department has taught its [thugs] to use Palantir Gotham…At great taxpayer expense, and without public oversight or regulation, Palantir helped the LAPD construct a vast database that indiscriminately lists the names, addresses, phone numbers, license plates, friendships, romances, jobs of Angelenos — the guilty, innocent, and those in between.  LAPD’s Palantir database includes information from the DMV…[and] 1 billion pictures taken of license plates from traffic lights and toll booths in Los Angeles and neighboring areas.  If you’ve driven through Los Angeles since 2015, the police can see where your car was photographed, when it was photographed, and then click on your name to learn all about you…

Thou Shalt Not (#971)

Pregnant women are easy targets for crypto-moralists:

Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should completely avoid caffeine, according to a study published in The British Medical Journal.  Its findings, though, were quickly picked apart by skeptics who are sick of women being warned that almost everything they do…is a risk to their kids.  “I don’t think we need to worry about coffee,” says Clare Murphy…[of] the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. “I think we need to worry about this relentless pursuit of pregnant women and regulating of pregnant women’s choices”…the paper…is…a meta-analysis of several earlier studies…conducted by James E. Jack, a professor of psychology at Reykjavik University whose life’s work seems to be excoriating caffeine…in a culture enamored of shame and blame, especially when it comes to moms, it is this kind of research that gets funding and attention…Murphy says that her country’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently published guidelines “whereby they want a woman’s entire alcohol history through the entire pregnancy—from a glass of beer they had before they knew they were pregnant—to be all documented and transferred onto a child’s health record.”  The clear implication is that anything a mom does can and will be held against her if a child exhibits problems…

The Implosion Begins

Cops will embrace any belief, no matter how bizarre, which gives them more power:

…what if the cop patrolling your neighborhood held bizarre and unsubstantiated views?  What if…he…was watching videos…[claim]ing that a satanic cabal of high-profile…pedophiles is running the world’s most insidious sex ring?  Or was swiping through memes popularizing …[fantasies] about kidnapped children kept in underground tunnels so their blood can be harvested to help keep wealthy people alive?  And what if they sincerely believed it all?  In a small but growing number of places across the country…[cops] have endorsed QAnon, [just as they endosed “sex trafficking” hysteria from which it sprang]…

Working From Home (#1070)

We’re way past the watershed when a prominent sex worker activist gets a network news byline:

Sex workers are the majority of creators on [OnlyFans], and here was a celebrity coming in and making more in a day than they could in a year.  Many sex workers rely on [the site] as their sole source of income during the pandemic, as in-person encounters became unsafe.  But what especially angered workers was how [former Disney star Bella] Thorne caused a wave of chargebacks that “broke OnlyFans”…[by] promising a $200 pay-per-message nude photo that she then shied away from sending…Shortly thereafter, OnlyFans…limit[ed] max subscription and tip payments and extend[ed] payout time by 23 days in 14 countries where fraud risk is deemed highest…To rub salt in the wound, Thorne’s sister Kaili responded to the controversy by seeming to dismiss and shame sex worker concerns…while the scandal has mostly died down, the problems it revealed remain worthy of our attention, especially as we head into fall and winter without a clear end to the…pandemic in sight…

Tissue of Lies

As I predicted almost 9 years ago, these debunkings are becoming common:

…The myths spread about human trafficking are endless.  Every year viral headlines claim the Super Bowl (and other major sporting events) are hotbeds for human trafficking.  This has been debunked for years.  The vast majority of sex workers get into the industry through friends or social activities, not through coercion of pimps.  There are ads to fight human trafficking in airports all over the country, despite there never being a confirmed case in one (but many cases of interracial families are reported)…These myths will continue feeding conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and QAnon until there’s a cultural effort to share the truth.  Human trafficking has been marketed as a national problem for decades and has generated hundreds of millions of dollars both publicly and privately, yet still has no credible studies showing the numbers of victims, no proof there’s a nation-wide crisis, and scarce evidence that current solutions help the underlying problems at all…

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I think my family is dead.  –  Harper Hansman

I spotted this video on YouTube last week, and it was so silly I had to share it.  The links above it were provided by Scott Greenfield, Radley Balko, Amy Alkon, Boatfloating, Jesse Walker, and Mike Siegel, in that order.

From the Archives

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As I’ve written before many times, nations and empires are as mortal as the humans who build them, if somewhat longer-lived; and despite the childish beliefs of many Americans, the US is not an exception.  It will die as all political entities must, and it has already passed the point at which future historians will draw an imaginary line dividing the “classical” US from the imperialistic police state which succeeded it.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen a succession of events which has dramatically undermined whatever prestige the US enjoyed:  the ascension of a mad emperor who has made himself an international laughingstock, burned nearly every bridge, and weakened the economy with a ridiculous trade war; the exposure before the eyes of the world of the violent, racist, authoritarian rot that permeates the entire fascist sytem; the childish bickering and deranged tyrannies of nearly every member of the US political class, trying to one-up each other instead of fulfilling one of the few legitimate functions of government, disaster management; and said government’s shameless funneling of money into the hands of the well-connected on a scale unseen since the collapse of the Ancien Régime.  But these were just the visible ulcerations of a cancer which existed for decades before (itself developing from the nation’s ugly birth defect, the morally repulsive notion that people do not own themselves, but can be owned by other people, groups or rulers).  As I wrote in 2013,

…the rulers, rather than admitting the systemic problems, prefer to treat government as a colossal game of hot potato, eternally passing the ball forward in the hopes that it will be in someone else’s hands when the music at last stops as it inevitably must.  But as the events of the last few years have amply demonstrated, the piper is growing steadily more exhausted, and will soon demand his due.  Soon we will be forced to change the way we’ve done things for the past century, whether we like it or not, and the actions of the ruling class (especially that of the US and UK) over the past few decades bode ill for that change being a peaceful one.  I think it’s safe to predict that there will be fireworks, and not of the pleasant kind…

The era of US hegemony is over; it looks, may the gods help us, as though the dominant world political power of the twenties is going to be an empire even more outrageously evil and single-mindedly authoritarian than the US ever was.  I suspect it won’t be long before the process of Balkanization which is already underway becomes obvious even to those who are deeply invested in ignoring it, and Washington joins Rome as a relic of crumbling monuments which was once the most powerful city on Earth.

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I don’t pay much attention to where blog traffic comes from any more; Google hides so much now that it’s no longer possible to easily deduce why there might be a sudden spike in traffic on a given day.  But when I saw an unusually-large spike one day last week, my curiosity got the better of me so I decided to search for the source.  As you might expect I found nothing, but in the process I followed a link back to some kind of bulletin-board site on which a newbie client was asking other dudes for advice on what to do on his first professional date.  One of the repliers had linked back to my site (alas, not to this article or this resource); a couple spouted “sex trafficking” nonsense at him; and one was clearly an exploitative hobbyist-type who gave him “advice” that mostly involve looking for the youngest, lowest-priced sex workers available because they have poor boundaries in comparison with older, established escorts.  But I was honestly a little surprised at the number of replies from guys containing various bizarre tales about how most escorts are robbers, a large number have “pimps” literally hiding under our beds or in our closets, etc.  Now, part of this is undoubtedly propaganda (possibly from either prohibitionists or “incels”) which those who shared it don’t actually believe, but use in an attempt to scare the gullible away from pragmatic sexual arrangements.  But the rest seems to me to be a resurgence of the “whore as criminal” myth popular through much of the 20th century, and still secretly popular among cops and other assorted lawheads no matter how much “sex trafficking” garbage they vomit up.  Given that we seem to finally be approaching the end of the “sex trafficking” moral panic (though a few years later than I originally predicted), this may be a bellwether for the direction prohibitionist propaganda will turn next; it certainly fits in well with charging sex workers as “pimps” for helping each other, etc, and follows the pattern we saw in the US following the collapse of the last round of “sex trafficking” hysteria about 90 years ago.  But we didn’t have social media then, and this time sex workers need to be ready to jump on these old lies as they’re taken out of mothballs, before they can be fully laundered and trotted out as popular fashions again.

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I can’t breathe.  –  Manuel Ellis

YouTube pushes videos based on some kind of algorithm involving what you’ve watched before, so I reckon it isn’t surprising I was dealt this one.  Like all of these pop-culture docuvideos it’s at least twice as long as it should be, but it’s still interesting.  The links above it were provided by Thaddeus Russell, Mama Tush, Grace, Kevin Wilson, Dave Krueger, and Elizabeth N. Brown, in that order.

From the Archives

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He fed the police and didn’t charge them nothing.  –  Odessa Riley

Rube Goldberg machines are even more awesome when constructed in an ordinary yard, as in this video contributed by Phoenix Calida; the links above it were provided by Cathy Reisenwitz, Kevin Wilson, Missy Mariposa (x2), Mark Bennett, and Mike Siegel, in that order.

From the Archives

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Policing prostitution isn’t protection — it’s patriarchy.  –  Kaytlin Bailey

Torture Chamber

From the same monsters who think it’s reasonable to lock people in cages for not “socially distancing”:

A federal appeals court has blocked…a judge’s order forcing Miami-Dade County to give masks, soap and cleaning supplies to [human beings locked in filthy, disease-infested cages by the state]…even though it acknowledges that social distancing is “impossible” [because the state has crammed so many people into its filthy dungeon]…the…ruling…allows litigation…to continue…163 [prisoners]…have tested positive for COVID-19…in the cramped [cages so far]…

Guest Columnist:  Kaytlin Bailey

An interview with Kaytlin on her Whore’s Eye View show:

…I’ve always been interested in sex work, history, and naturally, sex workers in history…Studying history feels like a way of preparing for the future, but it also feels like a way of contextualizing and trying to understand the current moment.  When Maya Angelou — another old pro — told us to “know your history,” I believe she meant it as both a way to affirm your identity and also as a way to recognize our enemies.  Studying things that have already happened is a way to familiarize ourselves with tactics that may be used again.  Those are the themes I’m most interested in exploring with The Oldest Profession…I’m worried for sex workers, but I’m also worried for organizers, journalists, comics, increasingly criminalized abortion providers, and all the people who connect online over kooky or kinky interests they wouldn’t want their employers or anyone in government to know about.  I’m worried about going back to a time when medically accurate information about contraception was legally obscene and criminalized.  I’m worried about returning to a time when suspect women could be rounded up and checked for venereal disease in the name of national security.  I’m worried about bad actors using anti trafficking rhetoric to justify a police state that is just out of control…

A Broker in Pillage (#953)

Judges are finally starting to dismantle this vile practice:

An Indiana man whose brand new Land Rover was [stolen by cops when]…he was arrested for dealing heroin in 2013 may get his vehicle back following seven years of legal wrangling, including a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court…Judge Jeffrey Todd…ordered [bureaucrats] to return Tyson Timbs’ 2013 Land Rover LR2 after Todd concluded the forfeiture of the $41,558 vehicle was grossly disproportionate to the underlying crime, whose maximum possible fine was $10,000…Timbs pleaded guilty to one count of dealing in a controlled substance after he sold a total of 4 grams of heroin for $385 to [pigs role-playing as normal people consenting to the transaction]…

Like Houses (#1029)

This is about SAFETY, not expanding the police state, no sirree!

A [pig]…violent[ly]…arrest[ed a man] in Manhattan…[resulting in the victim being hospitalized with severe injuries.  The video aggravated the]…frustration and anger [citizens feel over the arbitrary and heavy-handed way cops are “enforcing”]…social distancing [diktats]…tensions are especially high in New York City, which accounts for roughly half of the more than 321,000 confirmed cases and over 25,000 deaths statewide.  In the ninth week of the shutdown, New York City officials have repeatedly said there’s no template, let alone hard-and-fast rules, for how police should enforce social distancing orders[, giving the NYPD carte blanche to use its usual violent, racist tactics]…[L]ast weekend…[cops] handed out masks in parks largely packed with white residents but aggressively [brutalized people in]…minority communities…[Costumed thug] Francisco Garcia…[menaced] Donni Wright [with a stun gun and screamed obscenities at him] before forcing him to the ground, [beating] him and kneeling on his neck…

Working From Home (#1030)

Internet companies use sex workers to build themselves, then screw us over:

…as with most online platforms, adult and otherwise, the reality of OnlyFans’ success has always been a result of sex workers’ efforts.  Up until recently, its referral program rewarded users for bringing in new creators throughout the lifetime of the referees’ account.  OnlyFans paid referrers a commission equal to five percent of the new creator’s revenue…out of OnlyFans’ end, meaning the commission didn’t cut into the new creator’s profits…[But] in an email sent to creators last week, OnlyFans announced that starting May 1, referral payouts would be limited to one year after the referee joins, instead of throughout the lifetime of the account.  This, many creators say, is a serious blow to their income…

I Spy (#1035)

Reawakening

It doesn’t surprise me that politicians are starting to turn against one another:

Two county sheriffs in Arizona say they will not be enforcing Gov. Doug Ducey’s…stay-at-home [diktat]…Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster and Pinal County Mark Lamb have both said they will not arrest or hand out fines to those…trying to make a living…after Ducey said…that…if they [try to pay their bills or feed their families]…we will [lock them in filthy cages so they are more likely to get a disease]”…

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