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Links #445

If your dog gets aggressive, I’m going to shoot it.  –  “Officer” Keenan Wallace, referencing a 9# animal

Lovecraft-inspired pop culture stuff is often very gimmicky, but I quite enjoyed this little concerto inspired by “The Call of Cthulhu” (which was called to my attention by The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, natch).  The links above it were provided by Tim CushingScott GreenfieldBrooke MagnantiPopehatMistress Matisse, and Jesse Walker.

From the Archives

In the News (#903)

Is this going to school or going to prison?  –  anonymous Chinese citizen

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

I’ve been waiting for this shoe to drop:

Lawsuits alleging improper classification of workers and a recent California Supreme Court labor law ruling are impacting…adult dancers in San Francisco, many of whom once relied on daily cash payouts to survive…dancers, previously considered independent contractors, now are walking out of club doors with biweekly employee paychecks and not with cash in hands after their shifts end.  The move to convert adult dancers to employee status is causing an exodus…[from] those establishments…BSC Management…operates the majority of adult clubs in San Francisco…According to Axel Sang, BSC’s marketing director…“The BSC-managed clubs now have matching payroll taxes, unemployment compensation, workman’s compensation, Healthy San Francisco costs, Affordable Care Insurance costs and San Francisco sick leave pay for several hundred new employee entertainers in addition to the hourly wage”…Sang estimated that 200 dancers have quit their jobs since the policy change to paychecks…

Blunt Instrument (#596)

Due to their visibility, massage parlors are taking the brunt of the “sex trafficking” hysteria in smaller cities:

…the New Port Richey [Florida] City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would ban bathhouses in the city…[in an attempt to strangle] massage parlors…The ordinance would ban any establishment that’s not a medical facility from [letting water touch] clients.  Anyone who violates the law would be fined up to $500 for each violation and possibly imprisoned for up to 60 days…

Subtle Pimping (#802) 

Yet another scumbag profits from the criminalization of sex work by basing a game on lies about us:

Billy Cain…started searching for a way to use virtual reality technology — or VR — to [profit from] people…[by promoting hysteria] about sex trafficking…Texas has been a hub for…human trafficking [hysteria] for [a] decade…[one typically disgusting masturbatory fantasy claims] 79,000 children are being sex trafficked in Texas at any given moment…[in] his sex trafficking [sex fantasy] simulation…people put on a special pair of goggles to [roleplay an imaginary] 13-year-old girl who fell victim to trafficking.  In “Trapped: VR Detective Story”, players see where the girl is being held and interact with objects to [flesh out the fantasy prior to masturbation]…players will learn…who is most vulnerable to being trafficked — anyone.  Anywhere.  From any background…

TRAFFICKERS ARE EVERYWHERE!  THEY’RE WAITING TO GET YOU!  EVERYBODY PANIC, THEN BUY MY GAME!

Overdue

Collapsing empires are obsessed with form over substance:

“We’ve made a conscious effort in TSA … to use floppy ear dogs,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske told the Washington Examiner…”We find the passenger acceptance of floppy ear dogs is just better…Doesn’t scare children”…in the last year, 80 percent of dogs purchased by TSA…were…breeds…[with] droopy ears…which are deemed less intimidating…

Yes, the people who literally grope children’s genitals claim they’re worried that dogs will frighten them.

Choke Point (#850) 

Useful idiots are unable to understand how precedent works:

…a death metal/black metal record label has shut down in the wake of PayPal pulling out support for processing purchases, along with the creditors at Visa and MasterCard because the company was labeled as “high risk”, “promoting hatred”, “promoting violence”, and “promoting hate speech”…Elegy Records, a label that hosted all sorts of death metal music since 1996…[has closed due to] the inability to sign with a normal credit processor due to being…classified as “high risk” by the banks and credit processors, which meant that he was effectively blacklisted from the banking industry…the only way to accept payments from customers was…via cash or money orders.  For online businesses it’s not possible to operate without some sort of banking institution, or credit card processing since all purchases are made electronically…

It always starts with a politically-unpopular group like sex workers or gun owners, but never stops there.

Pyrrhic Victory (#857) 

Where US schools are soon headed:

In China’s latest quest to build an all-seeing surveillance state, schools…in…one of China’s poorest provinces…are now required to wear…uniforms…embedded with electronic chips that track their movements…[they] keep track of the exact times that students leave or enter the school…an[d]…facial-recognition equipment stationed at the school entrance can match a student’s face with the chip embedded in the uniform…The chips…can activate an alarm when the sensor detects that a student has fallen asleep in class…

Pyrrhic Victory (#884) 

While activists and Amazon’s own shareholders & employees were asking for the company not to support fascism, Bezos was doing this:

The FBI is piloting…Amazon Rekognition…as a means to sift through mountains of video surveillance footage the agency routinely collects…While Amazon is now a significant supplier of technology to the government…[and] includes the CIA and Defense Department as customers—it is less clear how its facial recognition software is being used in the [police state]…the company pitched the software to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last summer, a move that has…Amazon employees asking questions.  The company does not list any federal clients on its customer page, and currently only identifies as a customer one local law enforcement agency, the Washington County Sheriff Office…[yet]…the city of Orlando recently began a second pilot of…[the] software…

Imaginary Victims (#896) 

The Cyntoia Brown case has attracted attention to the cases of other underage sex workers who killed abusive clients:

…Chrystul Kizer, 18, is charged with first-degree homicide, arson and auto theft for the June 5 shooting death of Randall Volar III.  She was 17 when Volar was killed…he had been shot twice, and that the fire to the house appeared to have been set…Investigators said…Volar had paid for an Uber driver to bring Kizer from Milwaukee to his home…she initially denied knowing Volar, but later told police that “he (Volar) helped her with money and places to stay”…she reportedly confessed, saying “she got upset and was tired of Volar touching her” and that she had shot him…before his death Volar was under investigation by the Kenosha Police Department for sexual conduct with underage girls.  In a motion to compel discovery…[her lawyer stated] “The defense believes that the discovery in this case suggests that Ms. Kizer acted in self-defense”…

First They Came for the Hookers… (#900) 

It’s rare that judges side with sex workers against the government:

Imagine a symphony orchestra barred by the state from performing again because a musician was [accused of selling] marijuana to a colleague backstage…In Providence, Rhode Island…it happened to a strip club called the Foxy Lady.  On Dec. 19, the Providence Board of Licenses voted to permanently shut down the…[club] after police arrested three employees [and accused them of prostitution]…By doing so, the board threw more than 200 people out of work less than a week before Christmas.  Within days, the state Department of Business Regulation quickly restored the club’s liquor license, but the Foxy Lady’s owners were required by law to petition the state Supreme Court to regain its entertainment license…the state Supreme Court agreed to issue a stay, allowing the club to reopen for now, but the threat of future closure remains…

Its Own Reward

It always amuses me to hear pompous folk making disparaging remarks about cynicism.  They call it “sad” or “foolish” or even “stupid”, demonstrating that they have absolutely no idea of what they’re talking about and are afraid to admit the truth about the world.  In truth, there is absolutely no conflict between cynicism and idealism, and if someone portrays them as opposites they’re merely demonstrating their inability to separate the physical realm from the spiritual.  If you’ve been reading my work for a while you may have noticed that despite my dyed-in-the-wool cynicism, I am quite idealistic.  This does not mean I swing back and forth between the two, nor that my cynicism results from “disappointed idealism”; I learned to see the world as it is, rather than as I would like it to be, around the time I stopped believing in Santa Claus.  What it means is that I recognize the actual meaning of the word “ideal”, and understand that it’s the people who expect the world to conform to their own personal view of morality who are the sad, foolish, naive ones.  Though I expend tremendous effort to do what is right, and to speak truth to power, and to fight the evils which seek to reduce all individual souls to cogs in the machine of “society”, I labor under no illusion that my efforts will change the world in any permanent fashion; even if a culture arose which accepted all that I believe as sacred truth, that culture would be as mortal as any other and would eventually be replaced by another awful one.  The secret to balancing realism and idealism is understanding that morality is independent of results or even recognition.  I know when I die, tyrants and other control freaks will make an effort to bury my writing & activism along with my ashes and reduce me to “dead whore”.  And even if that effort succeeds, it won’t matter because I don’t do what I do for recognition or reward or even the belief that I can make the world a better place; I do it simply because it is right.  Even if mortals forget what I stood for, the gods will remember.  And even after they forget the fact will still remain as an infinitesimal but beautiful part of the fabric of time, long after the earth and sun are nothing but scattered debris recycled into other worlds.

Targeted

When I woke up Tuesday morning and checked my email, I found this ridiculous message from Twitter; it appears some Trumpist got his little fee-fees hurt by this comment and so tattled to Twitter, which responded in bizarrely disproportionate fashion by locking my account for a WEEK.  In case you’re wondering what this message (which you’ll note was a reply, not a general-audience tweet) is about, it was in reply to someone who stated that the federal employees forced to work without pay due to the so-called “shutdown” should go on strike.  As I told Elizabeth Nolan Brown,  “‘Targeted harassment’ of a government building of the most powerful Empire on Earth?…I had no idea I was so formidable.”  Despite the absurdity of the situation, it may be a harbinger of what sex workers have been worried about since FOSTA passed early last spring:  more eagerly-censorious companies like Facebook have been quick to throw sex workers under the bus, leaving Twitter as the last of the big social media outfits to tolerate us; this may be a sign that those days are coming to an end, and we may soon be purged from there as we have been from every other major social media platform.  I’ll be back tweeting as normal Tuesday morning, but in the meantime I’ve established a backup account to tweet from (and to build up just in case Twitter starts purging sex worker accounts), and I’d appreciate it if those of y’all who are on Twitter would follow me there as well.

Diary #445

Christmas is over and carnival has begun, which means my nails have gone from red to purple and my wardrobe from autumn & Yuletide to late winter colors (and once February arrives, that even includes pink).  Yeah, I’m pretty persnickety about seasonal colors; as a kid in New Orleans I always wished for seasons, and now that I have them I intend to observe them.  On a different subject, we’re just about done with the editing of my documentary, The War On Whores; we’re premiering it at this year’s SASS (less than two months away!) and then we’ll be opening up for screenings.  So if you have a group which might like to sponsor a screening in your city, you might want to start thinking about that.  And I might want to start thinking about getting off my derriere and putting the last touches on The Essential Maggie McNeill, which I’ve shamefully neglected since September for no reason I can adequately explain to my own satisfaction.  Such is the life of a neuroatypical writer sans externally-imposed deadlines; I’m trying to learn not to beat myself up about it.

In the News (#902)

All the excitement and hand wringing about [sex robots] was…pointless because [they] just don’t exist.  –  Mark Hay

If Men Were Angels 

“Youth pastors” are as bad as cops:

The head pastor of a Methodist congregation in Orange County [California]…was charged…with two counts of molesting a girl under 14 years old…John Rodgers McFarland…was arrested…Dec. 18…San Diego County prosecutors filed two counts of lewd acts on a child…stem[ming] from incidents in 2012 and 2013…Police in Fountain Valley, where McFarland worked as a pastor at a Methodist church for 26 years, said there is “evidence that McFarland abused other victims during his time as a pastor in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach”…He was the head pastor from 1988 to 2014 at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church, and a pastor at Surf City Church in Huntington Beach from 2009 to 2014…McFarland was also the youth pastor at San Dieguito United Methodist Church in Encinitas from 1978 to 1981…

Backwards into the Future (#425) 

I wonder how long it will be before the US abandons “re-education” for sex workers and clients?

China looks set to abolish a controversial system that lets police arbitrarily detain sex workers and their clients for up to two years without trial for “compulsory education”.  The “detention and re-education for those involved in prostitution” program, which has existed for 27 years, was recommended for abolition…by the Legislative Affairs Commission…scholars, legal practitioners and members of the public…have long lobbied for the change on the grounds such administrative detention is unjust, extrajudicial and particularly punitive.  Sex work will remain punishable …by a penalty of up to 15 days’ detention.  The parallel custody and education system [h]as…[since] 1991…authorized police to force sex workers into various forms of long-term “education” which included morality lessons, written confessions, forced labor and other humiliating activities designed to “remove evil habits”…

Shift in the Wind (#530)

More and more, the media in many countries are siding with sex workers:

On December 17th, sex workers…and…activists from Macedonia held the 11th annual “Red Umbrella March” in Skopje…The Macedonian march was organized by STAR-STAR, the first sex workers collective in the Balkans…participants demand changes to in the Criminal Code which has remained unchanged for three decades since the fall of Communism…with exception to increasing penalties for sex workers…

Divided We Fall (#672)

Why does Gay, Inc never speak up for sex worker rights until it’s too late?

…a darkening wave of internet censorship…started when Congress passed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) in March…Long before these laws were passed though, sex workers and advocates spoke out against them, [explaining] that their terms were vague and overreaching and would…decimate the digital platforms that have specifically provided a space for workers to meet, vet clients, and engage in consensual business in an online environment far safer than working on the street…The sex workers’ fears did materialize. Craigslist immediately deleted its Personals section…and Backpage…was seized by the FBI.  Multiple sex work forums disappeared immediately…harming and isolating queer people…Over the past few months alone Recon, a fetish dating site for gay men, saw their Youtube temporarily suspended…Naked Boys Reading saw their Facebook page temporarily banned…In October, Facebook was revealed to be blocking many LGBTQ+ ads as part of its new advertising policy…Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has also appeared to be censoring the queer community with algorithms that, intentionally or otherwise, flag queer content at a higher rate than non-queer content…

The Mote and the Beam (#701)

I wish writers would stop these pandering claims that censorship attempts are “well-intentioned”:

…a string of civil lawsuits [has] intended to pin liability on online platforms for allegedly providing material support to terrorists.  Several federal trial courts dismissed such suits [last] year, but some of these cases are on appeal and plaintiffs have filed several new ones.  If these suits are successful…platforms would have little choice to become much more restrictive in what sorts of speech they allow…these cases…threaten the availability of open online forums and Internet users’ ability to access information.  That’s why EFF filed legal briefs in 2018 asking two different federal appellate courts to dismiss material support cases against social media platforms…So far, courts have been quick to toss out these material support lawsuits…As well-intentioned as these cases are, they pose a threat to…online communities…[they] threaten Internet users’ and the platforms’ First Amendment rights…[and] jeopardize one of the Internet’s most important laws, Section 230…

Censorship and prohibition are not, and by their very nature cannot be, “well-intentioned”.  They are attempts to control other people’s minds, bodies and lives and are thus intrinsically evil no matter how they’re excused by authoritarians.

Disaster 

It’s good to see so many journalists recognizing how dangerous the War on Whores has become.  This Forbes article on “The 9 Most Important Sex Trends Of 2018” includes the following:

…FOSTA-SESTA…opens internet platforms to liability for…user-generated content, creating a major legal risk for sites used to facilitate sex work…[and] adds to the popular, yet false, conflation of sex work with sex trafficking…The law has led to the shutdown of a number sites, groups, and forums sex workers used to facilitate their operations…[and] share safety information…and…has also…accelerated a wave of sexual censorship online…FOSTA-SESTA “is causing major havoc,” argues [sexologist Jill] McDevitt, for “anyone who uses the internet to read, research, or express themselves sexually in any way”…[experts] are worried that Twitter, the last major bastion of sexual speech online, may fall to this wave of censorship in the new year…

Imaginary Victims (#864) 

As I’ve pointed out many times, “safe harbor” laws only protect “perfect victims”, not real ones:

The Summit County Juvenile Court in Ohio didn’t follow the law when it allowed a 15-year-old girl who was a human trafficking victim to be tried as an adult in the robbery and murder of the man who trafficked her, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled…The high court, however, upheld the girl’s conviction and sentence to prison for the rest of her life…[claiming] Alexis Martin couldn’t prove that the judge’s decision to bind her over to adult court would have changed if the juvenile court had [actually followed the “safe harbor” law as it was required to do]…

Gorged With Meaning (#877)

Ignoring student sex workers would be fine; the problem is that universities are actively harming them:

Universities must stop ignoring the plight of a growing number of students turning to sex work and should start offering non-judgemental support, campaigners demand.  Students and experts have accused institutions of “simply burying their heads in the sand” over the issue…many universities are…actively blocking groups trying to support students involved in sex work.  In one case a student…sex work[er] was evicted from her home and threatened with expulsion by her university…The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP)…have fought a number of cases recently where universities have threatened to throw out students if they do not stop doing sex work…

The Course of a Disease (#884)

Israeli prohibitionists are trying to criminalize all sex work:

The Knesset approved the first reading of a bill limiting the Israeli access to…sites presenting adult-related materials…the bill demands web-service providers to send a message to house-holds with internet access asking if they wish to have such sites blocked or not…Should they decline the offer they will be asked to provide personal information [which will then be shared with the government] proving that they are adults and are the ones paying for the service…The Knesset also approved adopting the Nordic Model…which…is…a state intervention on people’s right’s and bodies as well as a criminaliz[ation of] human activity that will be very hard to prevent…

Due to last year’s upheaval in escort advertising, the number of dumb, no-useful-information texts I receive has expanded dramatically; some of them are creepy and abusive, while others are just ridiculous time-wasters.  But since yesterday was the beginning of carnival season, I thought it might amuse y’all to see some of the recent replies I’ve given to such texts.  I’m presenting them without direct context, but I’m sure you can figure out what kind of question or statement many of these were in reply to.  Please understand that none of these guys made even the most minimal good-faith effort to approach me as one would approach a professional whose services one wished to engage, and also that the ones containing a time reference were answered the following morning.

 

Strange, but this does not look like screening information. It’s not your name, it’s not your references, it’s not your email address, it’s not your occupation. So I’m not sure what it’s doing there.

If you can’t be bothered to read the website, I can’t be bothered to see you.

Yes, of course it’s me. Who else would it be?

Do you see a price for half an hour on my website?

Try rubbing it on your own.

The answer is going to keep being “no”.

Why have you sent me a picture of a dead fish?

I suggest you learn some manners before attempting to contact women.

Don’t even bother looking at my website, because I’m not going to see you.

Wow, you’re even stupider than I had at first imagined.

Then obviously you know how to proceed.

Not until you learn to read.

If you have to ask that question, this is probably not the pastime for you.

In other words, you’re a time-waster and wanted to get phone time with me without paying.

You should expect that I’m an escort, as advertised.

The idea that there are many “just like me” out there is exactly the reason I’m not seeing you.

I make plenty of money without dealing with morons like you.

If you won’t follow my simple requests when you’re trying to get to see me, there’s no way you will respect my boundaries in person.

You’re kidding, right?

You are clearly a hasty idiot and I don’t see hasty idiots.

Do you honestly think cops can’t say that?

I suggest you go watch some porn instead.

“What’s up” is all on my website.

If that is the first question you ask a lady, I have no interest in seeing you.

Sorry, I have no time for rude assholes who think that they can circumvent my procedures.

I do not “hang out”, and if I did it certainly wouldn’t be at 5:30 in the morning.

Go away. Get your wanking material somewhere else.

You don’t get to answer my question with a question.

I’m never “free”, and certainly not at 3:30 in the morning.

The predictability of morons like you is fascinating.

Dude, seriously? Do you think I don’t have your number saved? Get lost.

Are you seriously asking me that question?

You sound like you are trying to pick up some amateur at a bar.

I don’t care what you look like or how hard you are.

You did not answer my question. That does not speak well of you.

I should think my answer is self-evident.

None of this is information that I need for screening. Please consult my website.

Sure, you can send me 80 via cash app and I will insult you for being a stupid cheapskate.

Yes, of course I’m a whore. But you already knew that and so did I, so what was the point of saying it, Captain Obvious?

What is that, your age or your IQ?

I told you to get lost. Scram. Vamoose. Go play with yourself.

I’m not even going to ask you why you texted me in the first place, because I’m sure the answer will be stupid.