Posts Tagged ‘Mars’

rock make all grak friend jealous best rock in village. rock work for hitting things.  –  Grak

Surprised to see this on a Friday?  Take a look at the calendar; because of the way the holidays fall this year, it was really the best choice until January.  Anyway, as I told you a few weeks ago, I’ve been binge-watching Doctor Who with Lorelei Rivers, who as it turns out is as big a nerd as I am (and if the idea of sharing an evening with two hot, nerdy, librarian whores sounds good to you, do let me know).  Anyhow, a few weeks ago she showed me this very funny parody starring Rowan Atkinson, and I just noticed it was on YouTube so enjoy.  The links above it were provided by Wendy Lyon (“Sweden”), Jesse Walker (“kink” and “feathers”),  Nun Ya (“West”), Walter Olson (“ahnt”), Tim Cushing (“whatsoever”), Popehat  (“bottled”), and Mistress Matisse (“Louisiana”).

From the Archives

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I recently became aware of Science Hooker, and I was so impressed I immediately asked her to do a guest column.  She was able to achieve what in my youth I wanted to achieve, but couldn’t, and that makes her even more awesome in my estimation.science-hooker

Fucking science.
Science does not need to be dry.
Middle and upper class.
Even though people fitting these values dominate it.
Serve my science as a double shot in a sleazy bar.
“What was your name again?”
Learning and ability is not about background.
It’s about will, thought, curiosity, stubbornness and passion.
Science Hooker is about science for ALL.

Nerves jostle my stomach stepping onto the podium, adjusting the mic.  Hundreds of academic faces, mostly white, mostly men, mostly upper middle class, peer at me from the cavernous dark.  Mars rover tools.  I’m here to talk about Mars rover tools, about how ultrasonics enhance performance.  The focus envelopes, I calm…. begin.  A significant part of my confidence in academia traces back to me fucking for a living.  Honing those social skills.  Escort, prostitute, courtesan, whore; the label has never seemed important.  I remember perching on the radiator in a cold Edinburgh flat, nervous energy bubbling through me and a client due to arrive any minute.  The doorbell chimed, the focus enveloped, calm… begin.

I’ve never been ashamed or embarrassed about escorting.  Why should I?  There was so much learning.  So much living. I was an escort in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was studying part time at the Open University of Scotland, a truly fantastic institution for social mobility.  I gained a 1st in a geoscience BSc and was half way through an MSc when offered a PhD with the UK Space Agency, investigating the loss of the Mars atmosphere into the rocky crust and what lessons we can take from this in respect to climate change on Earth.  I’d never studied full time, nor physically attended an institution.  The integral snobbery, bigotry and discrimination is real.

Many academic peers are surprisingly religious, mass on Sunday sort of thing.  Their attitude to open discussions of prostitution backgrounds is full of the usual “saddening”, “terrible” and “disgusting”, coupled with trite ignorant sentiments such as, “Well, at least that is behind you know, or I hope it is, otherwise I don’t know what to say”.  The idea that there could be any positive life or value within the confines of escorting is anathema.  The message clearly announced that sex workers do not belong in academia unless they are very repentant, and acknowledge that their life was very sad, and how grateful they are to have transcended into the academic’s world.  Fuck conforming to fit in with this scene.

Science Hooker is my reaction to this elitist, insular environment of privilege.  It started in December 2015 as website, Twitter and Facebook platform where I simply shared fun science, but with an “escort” slant, which probably tasted daring and risqué to most academics.  The few thousand followers were mostly academics.  Yet, the project has evolved since the early days, becoming less timid.  A regular blog slot was provided by The Huffington Post, with a relatively free hand regarding content; this has been a powerful platform to engage larger audiences.  Following a Huffington article I wrote on prostitution, the House of Commons invited me to a panel discussion on reforming prostitution laws; it suddenly felt like Science Hooker could make an impact.  A short film was produced as a Cairn Productions-Science Hooker collaboration about my science research.  Thousands of academics followed, hundreds of professors; but still, I felt Science Hooker was pointless in a way.  Sharing academic content with academics is preaching to the converted.  It is not outreach.  It is not real science communication.  Added to this, a dozen other platforms are doing the exact same format of science dissemination.  I found myself asking: why am I doing Science Hooker?  What is the goal?  Where is it going?

The answer is still forming.  Fermenting.  Recently, large numbers of sex workers have followed, sharing their content, thoughts, jokes and issues.  I am glad of this demographic shift.  Interestingly, the extent I engage with the sex work community correlates with a proportionate decline in academic followers; a price worth paying, but informative about attitudes, and reinforcing my previous conclusions.  There has been a mixture of positive and negative reactions to Science Hooker.  Recently an academic pulled their copyright and association with a mineral reference book I had been working on with other students because they had stumbled over Science Hooker and my escort history.  This was no loss, academics are plentiful; we simply replaced his contribution and took the incident as a perfect example of bigotry and exclusion in the sciences for those from alternative backgrounds.  At the other end of the spectrum, Science Hooker recently got nominated by a post-doctoral fellow for the Annie Maunder medal from the Royal Astronomy Society for public outreach.  Science Hooker generates impact, disparagement, respect, hatred, encouragement and dismissal in a messy bundle of reactions.

Science Hooker ethos has always been about making science accessible and understandable to all, yet the tangible application of this goal is difficult.  How does one achieve this in any concrete sense?  Initially the accessibility I had in mind was all about explaining science, but now I feel it has morphed to include smashing down ivory walls of the academic tower, or at least graffiti them up a bit; highlighting discrimination, denial of access and judgemental hatred to sex workers in relation to formal science, education and academia.  A new project on the drawing board just now is called “Ask a scientist!”  I am collecting a network of scientists from a wide range of disciplines willing to answer public questions in a 1-1 personal way.  There will be two functions.  Anyone will be able to search for a scientist from a database, read about their history and motivations, their area of research and contact them directly via email.  Alternatively, people will be able to ask a question on the website, and any scientist can choose to respond and answer it, or not.  Possibly different scientists will forward different viewpoints and a conversation will develop.  I hope so.  Once this has been trialed successfully, it would be interesting to create another database called “Ask a sex worker”, again, with the aim of developing conversation, connection and mutual understanding.  I firmly believe it is through knowledge of each other that stigma dies.

The university is ending my funding soon, and I won’t have finished the PhD in time.  I don’t know what will happen, with me, or with Science Hooker.  I may even return to escorting.  Life is uncertain. I am unpredictable.  Science Hooker is fluid.  We can all only play with the cards in our hand, make a difference where opportunity and circumstance allow. So why not visit Science Hooker?  See what it’s all about.

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Art is nothing more of less than various modes of stylized, dehumanized representation.  –  Venus of Willendorf

Finding What Isn’t There (#24) 

Do these prohibitionists think I’m a she-devil who can appear when my name is spoken?

…The Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána issued a joint statement…[revealing] that there had been a massive, joint operation…[and] smashed one of the most serious sex trafficking rings world-wide.  Some 784 women had been rescued and taken to secure accommodation for their own safety.  Twenty men, all of eastern European extraction, had been arrested…the men had groomed the women on-line…offering them the chance of employment in Ireland.  Once here, their passports were confiscated, they were made to service 50 men a day, sometimes more.  If they resisted, they would be chained to radiators.  After several months of being “broken in”, groups of the women were…flown in an unmarked jet to Atlanta, the major trafficking hub in the US…Lord Morrow…sharply criticised those politicians who had called for evidence during his [Swedish model] Bill’s progressing, saying…[they had] been taken in by the lies spread on some American libertarian websites by people posing as “ex-madams”…

The Widening Gyre 

It was only a matter of time…

Several anti-sex-trafficking organizations held a joint press conference today to announce their opposition to space exploration, citing concerns about future sex trafficking.  “Space is going to be like a frontier town,” said Nicholas Kristoff.  “There will be no law enforcement in space, which means that girls, some as young as 11, could be easily trafficked to colonies on Mars or in the asteroid belt where they would have to service up to 50 men a day”…Julie Bindel…[noted] that science fiction films have frequently depicted prostitution…She derided the series Firefly for presenting an unrealistic and unrepresentative model…[and added] “No little girl grows up wanting to be a triple-breasted Martian prostitute”…a recent study by Dominique Roe Sepowitz…presented evidence that shuttle launches are associated with major increases in sex trafficking…Amanda Marcotte…advocated for an “enthusiastic consent” standard from other planets before further human exploration.


So “signs of trafficking” idiocy isn’t confined to the US:

When a young 17 year old trafficking victim was discovered in a hotel in Valkenburg the Netherlands last fall, government officials and law enforcement authorities had to consider: how could this have happened right under our noses?  The Netherlands in a major hub for human trafficking, as the country is located near the sea and has borders to various European countries such as Belgium and Germany…not all victims are bundled across borders in cars with tinted windows or shipped in containers.  Sometimes they’re just hidden in plain sight, among other children and women…law enforcement and human trafficking experts are now working together with teachers to catch the earliest signs of child sex trafficking…Peter van Dam…of StopItNow…[said] “Some children are trafficked as young as four years old…Kids as young as 5 years old are being raped daily, some estimates suggest up to one in twelve children could be victimised”…

Scapegoats (#449)

Well, this was unexpected:

…An unusual furry prostitution ring has been busted…in…Manhattan.  Despite surveillance footage, the age, gender & species of both the victims and perpetrators have proven difficult to determine.  A Detective from the NYPD, Will Wonder suspects “very young girls” and “seriously fucked up old men.”  No evidence of money exchange has been reported but Detective Wonder is convinced “no woman would do this without getting paid.”  Police were first alerted by another guest at the upscale hotel who noticed people gathering in “very unflattering costumes” even though “Halloween is months away.”  Upon completion of a mostly illegal search & seizure, a man/bear confessed to “anything & everything” which detectives are interpreting as “running an under age furry prostitution ring.”  Investigators are shocked & appalled at the furries apparent willingness to exploit young girls’ “natural obsession with animals and arts & crafts” for their own sexual gratification…Caroline

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The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive.  –  Priscella Holley

Apparently we’re over the holiday slump, because there were lots of good links!  Mike Siegel was the top contributor this week, with the first video (an example of Sweden being Swedish) and everything above it; the second video (silly, but amusing) was provided by Kevin Wilson, and the links between the videos by Mistress Matisse (“race”), Radley Balko (“start” and “blue”), Dan Savage  (“federalism” and “unpunished”), Jesse Walker (“beer” and “luck”), Clarissa  (“determined” and “bury”), Violet Blue (“adventure”), Aspasia (“owners”), Popehat (“Mars”), Amy Alkon (“stupid”), Angela Keaton (“truck”), and Michael Whiteacre (“shampoo”).

From the Archives

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We are the Martians now.  –  Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley)

Five Million Years to EarthOne of my favorite horror movies is Quatermass and the Pit (1967), released in the United States as Five Million Years to EarthIMDb synopsizes its plot thus:  “An ancient Martian spaceship is unearthed in London, and proves to have powerful psychic effects on the people around.”  If you’ve seen the movie you already know that doesn’t remotely do it justice, and if you haven’t (but would like to) you might want to skip today’s column for now because it uses the film’s plot as a metaphor for human behavior, and that necessarily involves major spoilers.  If you’ve already seen the movie, or don’t like science fiction-style horror (or horror-tinged sci-fi), or you just don’t mind knowing the end of a flick you might someday watch, stick around.  And even if you know it well, please have patience while I describe those plot elements crucial to the comparison.

The synopsis says the ship is “unearthed”; that happens during the excavation of a new Underground station at Hobbs End, a locale long associated with ghostly goings-on.  Of course the immediate assumption is that the find is an unexploded bomb left over from the Blitz, but tests quickly prove that the thing has been there for a hell of a lot longer…five million years, give or take.Martian spaceship  It is also, needless to say, not of this Earth.  Further investigation by Professor Quatermass and his associates reveals that its origin is Mars, and it contains the mummified bodies of its crew (who were killed on impact) and several hominids who appear to have been artificially altered.  Research and various incidents reveal the full truth:  though the Martians knew their world was dying, they could not colonize the Earth because the gravity was too heavy and the air too dense for their fragile, locust-like bodies.  They therefore decided to re-engineer the brains of Earth’s primitive inhabitants so that they would think and act like Martians; in other words, they would essentially make Martians in human bodies to survive on Earth.  But the experiment was only in its early stages when the Martian civilization collapsed; they were never able to reprogram enough members of our race for the experiment to fully succeed.  It did, however, introduce certain elements into the human gene pool.

Roney & Quatermass with mummified MartianThe Martians had what we would call psychic abilities, and though the plan was incomplete it did result in some humans displaying such abilities in latent form…abilities which could be awakened by the artificial psychic presence which served the function of a ship’s computer.  Over the millennia, sensitive individuals living in the area above the buried ship received signals from it and saw ghostly apparitions of Martians (which they perceived as horned goblins or devils, hence the name of the place).  As the movie approaches its climax, an accident fully re-awakens the ship’s damaged consciousness, which immediately sets about fulfilling its original mission:  to create a Martian colony out of the area’s humans.  The Martians, as previously mentioned, were insect-like creatures who lived in tremendous hives; as one might expect of insects, they had little individuality and no tolerance for deviation from the norm.  They therefore underwent periodic purges, events in which mass hysteria raced through the hives and caused them to exterminate all whom they sensed were too different to be allowed to live.  And they intended us to live the same way, undergoing occasional periods in which those more like our Martian creators – unimaginative, conformist and easily driven by the hive-mind – would gather in mobs to seek out and destroy those who were too different, using the psychic technology at their command.  Until he is shaken out of it by the more-purely-human Dr. Roney, even the brilliant Professor Quatermass is swallowed up in the hysteria, unable to use his critical thinking abilities while in the grip of the blind drive to destroy everyone who is different.

Quatermass and the PitOf course, this is all a mere fantasy; we know humans don’t carry any hidden bombs in our unconscious minds.  We know there aren’t any evolutionary relics, behaviors designed to advance some greater biological purpose with a complete disregard for what individuals might want.  We know that humans don’t behave differently when they’re in mobs, and that such mobs don’t really engage in horrible acts their members would condemn if they were committed by individuals.  We know that people don’t allow themselves to be guided by sinister “authorities” about whom they actually know nothing, and that they don’t blindly obey laws they had no part in creating.  We know that people are never terrified of imaginary devils which exist only in their minds, and that they aren’t subject to periods of irrational hysteria in which they discard millennia of moral development in a blind, monstrous quest to purge all Outsiders from society.

Don’t we?

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I don’t call him my boyfriend.  He’s more a good spirit friend who happens to be from the octopus race.  –  Stephany Fay Cohen

Sometimes it becomes obvious early in the week who’s going to be the lead contributor, but other times it’s close up until posting time.  And once in a while I have actually collected the leader’s links at the top of the draft, only to have him fall behind in the end.  That’s what happened this week; Jesse Walker only surpassed Radley Balko on Friday afternoon, and then by only one link.  All of the links down to the first video are Jesse’s, as is the last part of “welcome to our world”; the first two parts were contributed by Marginal Utilite and Mike Siegel respectively, and the first three links after it are Radley’s.  Both videos were supplied by Grace; the first one features her kind of guy (her own inventions aren’t quite that Goldbergian), and the second is a primer on a  Supreme Court case I’ve mentioned before.  “Warrant” and “judicial overreach” were provided by Gideon’s Trumpet, “unnecessary quotes” by Popehat, “new teeth” by Luscious Lani, “penis thieves” by Michael Whiteacre and “errant shooting” by Aspasia.  This week we’ve also got an unusually-high number of articles by link contributors, as the bylines will show.

From the Archives

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While female orgasms were most commonly experienced during foreplay,  copulatory vocalizations were reported…most often…with male ejaculation …[indicating] that there is at least an element of these responses that are under conscious control, providing women with an opportunity to manipulate male behavior to their advantage.  –  Gayle Brewer & Colin Hendrie

This has been rather a quiet week, which is good because it’s allowed me to get ahead on my work, and to adjust my schedule for being out of town next week (I’ll explain where I’m going one week from today).  This “Links” feature has almost finished its circuit; next week it will once again be adjacent to the TW3 column, and two weeks after that it will be back to its accustomed place on Sunday (where it will remain except when some special occasion displaces it).  Radley Balko was top dog again this week, contributing all the links down to the first video; that was provided by Satoshi Kanazawa, and examines an interesting problem in probability which fooled me until it was explained (and even then required some thought).  The second video isn’t nearly as intellectually challenging, but may be harder to accept emotionally for many Americans; it’s a short recording of a protest based on a principle I have myself stated to Grace (who is a quarter Choctaw) many times.  The links between the videos were supplied by Michael WhiteacreBrooke MagnantiAL 360Jack ShaferAmy AlkonPopehatMike Siegel and Jesse Walker, in that order.

From the Archives

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