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Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

Out of Touch

Most people who know me, friend and foe alike, are impressed or even intimidated by my encyclopedic memory.  And though I do indeed seem to have more memory space and better recall than most, I honestly think the apparent effect is boosted by my not devoting much memory space to popular ephemera.  No, that’s not strong enough; it’s more truthful to say that I’m astonishingly ignorant of popular culture, at least of the past four decades.   As I’ve often said, I stopped watching network television in 1980, and truth be told I was losing interest in it for several years before that, so I never watched a lot of the ’70s fluff such as The Love Boat that my younger siblings enjoyed.  For the next two decades I watched PBS and a few cable or independent stations, and by the turn of the century I had mostly stopped watching that, too.  Furthermore, I disliked TV news from time I was old enough to form an opinion about it (11 or 12 maybe?) and have only ever got my news from text sources.  Once I started being able to afford my own entertainment equipment in the mid-’80s, it was rare that I just turned on media (for “background noise”) that I wasn’t actively consuming; that’s probably largely due to my ADD, which makes it difficult to impossible to concentrate on reading or writing unless the room is fairly quiet.

The result of all this is, a lot of names and terms and phrases, etc, which most people would recognize might as well be drawn from medieval Chinese textbooks as far as I’m concerned.  Earlier this year I made a series of self-deprecating jokes on Twitter about my inability to recognize the various names associated with the various Trump administration scandals: “Lindsey Graham…wasn’t he in an ’80s sitcom?” or “Why are people complaining about Stephen Miller?  His music isn’t that bad.”  “Ooh, I know Mnuchin; that’s one of the little people in The Wizard of Oz!” and so on.  Last week, one of my gents texted me with something about bubbles and surges which I figured probably had more to do with COVID than with soup-making, but I wasn’t totally sure.  And in response to my query, an online friend said I was probably better off not knowing why Trumpaloons were making what appeared to be references to Ray Harryhausen’s last movie.  I suspect it does give me a bit of an “absent-minded professor” vibe, but c’est la vie; judging by the distress a lot of the stuff I don’t know seems to cause people, I think I’m better off keeping my head filled with facts, names, and even trivia that are important to me rather than letting all and sundry strew whatever rubbish they have on hand all over my mental front yard.

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Smart people…[a]re better than dumber people at coming up with reasons to justify their false beliefs.  –  Cathy Reisenwitz

See No Evil (#424)

Censors have learned to use “progressive” rhetoric to cloak prudery:

A 26-foot-tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe playfully patting down her upblown skirt is the source of a [moronic] debate in Palm Springs, California.  The town’s city council has approved the…recreation of the act[ress]’s iconic scene atop a blustery subway grate from…The Seven Year Itch—to be installed near the Palm Springs Art Museum for a three-year period.  But…[prudes, busybodies and censors are dis]pleased with the decision…the museum’s executive director…Louis Grachos [made furtive movements in his pants while bloviating weird fantasies about underwear]…“school-age children”…and [how the]…statue [magically] objectifies women…[thereby] “hurt[ing] our whole community”…Steven H. Maloney, chair of the museum’s board of trustees, [opined that women are so stupid that a painted hunk of metal constitutes]…“an unhealthy encouragement of risqué behavior of women”…

I have a hard time imagining what a lower opinion of women than that displayed by these pompous weeds would look like.

Policing Womanhood

Cathy Reisenwitz has further thoughts on the origin of whore-hatred in women:

As my friend and fellow sex worker Maggie McNeill points out, public polling suggests men are more likely to support sex work decrim than women…Maggie thinks that the main reason women oppose sex work decrim is that women tend to think of women’s individual behavior as reflecting on women as a whole and think sex work is a bad look…I think there’s truth to that, but it lacks an important class angle…middle-class white women began campaigning for laws against prostitution and defining any type of promiscuity as prostitution in the Progressive Era at the turn of the 20th century…Middle-class white women feared female economic independence threatened dominant middle-class values.  By making prostitution dangerous and illegal, middle-class white women sought to force working-class women, women of color, and immigrant women into marriage, chastity, monogamy, hard work, and propriety lest they live independently of men and destroy the social order…

To Molest and Rape (#825)

Rapist cops don’t only target women:

A man who [was raped by] a [typical and representative] South Carolina [cop]…is suing the city of Travelers Rest…The [cop], Shawn Jenkins, was fired from the [cop shop] last year after…[the] Sheriff’s Office…[only] charged [him] with second-degree sexual misconduct…The plaintiff, who filed the suit anonymously, told investigators Jenkins pointed a department-issued stun gun at him while he was visiting Jenkins’ residence on Aug. 5, 2019, and told him to “strip or be tased”…The [then-underage victm] tried to run away, but [Jenkins] locked [him] inside a room [and raped him]…

Pyrrhic Victory (#974) 

As long as cops suffer no consequences for disobedience, laws like this are mere political grandstanding:

In Maine, voters in the state’s largest city recently enacted one of the toughest facial recognition bans in the country in the Nov. 3 elections, outlawing both use of the technology by local police and the city government…the measure codifies – [but adds only weak] enforcement teeth – to a ban…passed in August by the Portland City Council…The new law allows citizens to sue the city for illegal facial recognition surveillance by the city police or government.  Citizens could get [a mere] $1,000 per violation plus legal fees, if they prevail in court.  Municipal employees [but not cops] can be fired [but not criminally prosecuted] for violating the [law]…

Welcome to the Future (#1073)

Pasco County, Florida’s “predictive policing” scheme doesn’t spare minors:

The Pasco Sheriff’s Office keeps a secret list of kids it [pretend]s could “fall into a life of crime” based on factors like whether they’ve been abused or gotten a D or an F in school…the list [is created] by combining the rosters for most middle and high schools in the county with records so sensitive, they’re protected by state and federal law…Four hundred and twenty kids are [currently] on the list…[cops do]n’t tell the kids or their parents about the designation…an[d]…school…[administrators claim to have been] unaware…of [it as well]…The Department of Children and Families [refused to] answer…the Sheriff’s Office…use[s the list] to [target]…middle and high school…[students for surveillance and harassment euphemized as] “mentorship” and “resources”…Ten experts in law enforcement and student privacy…called the program…a clear misuse of children’s confidential information that stretched the limits of the law…

Legislators Gone Wild (#1086)

Why are Nevada brothel whores unable to open their mouths without vomiting out toxic whorearchy?

…[brothel whores unemployed] because of COVID-19…say they are being forced to make money in what they call dangerous, scary and illegal ways…the long shutdown is depleting their savings and they’re going broke waiting to work again.  That is forcing some of them to turn to things they didn’t want to to make money, like illegal prostitution.  One…says…”it’s so degrading and so scary”…Another…admits to illegally meeting with a Mustang Ranch regular…she trusted him but…he beat and choked her…two [say they] decided to turn a trick in Arizona…but…the…man…ended up holding them hostage in the bathroom at gun point…The madams also say they’re seeing some of their workers walking the streets now with…pimps…”If you walk into a casino, the floor is filled with illegal prostitutes and pimps”…

Apparently these whores are both incompetent and cursed, so that in a few months they’ve experienced more violence than every escort I know put together has experienced in years.

Dangerous Speech (#1087)

It’s symptomatic of the government’s deep moral rot that she wasn’t automatically disqualified:

On Nov. 18, veteran newspapermen Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin took the extraordinary step of filing a petition for a writ of mandamus with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking it to intervene in their ongoing criminal case and order Judge Susan Brnovich to recuse herself from all future proceedings…her husband, Arizona Attorney General Mark…Brnovich, others on his behalf and organizations with which he is associated…have vilified Backpage, assumed its complicity in sex trafficking, and drawn conclusions about facts that will be at issue in the trial of Lacey, Larkin and their four co-defendants…[although] the AG’s inaccurate assumptions about Backpage go to the heart of the case and raise the specter of potential bias on behalf of the judge[, she has stubbornly refused to recuse herself]…

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The blast blasted blubber beyond all reasonable bounds.  –  Paul Linnman

Since last week was the 50th anniversary of the infamous Exploding Whale of Oregon, Mike Siegel felt this video should be posted to commemorate it.  He also provided “restoration” below, and the other links are from Walter Olson, Cop Crisis, Scott Greenfield, Amy Alkon, and Boatfloating, in that order.

From the Archives

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The police department was…dead-set on making sure those records never reached the public.  –  David James

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

As usual, police were disinterested in catching him until he started killing non-whores:

The Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe has died at the age of 74. The serial killer was serving a whole life term for murdering 13 women…he…died in hospital where he is said to have refused treatment for Covid-19…Sutcliffe, who was also found guilty of the attempted murder of seven women, was convicted in 1981…His killings began with..Wilma McCann…who[m he] hit with a hammer and stabbed 15 times, in October 1975…Sutcliffe’s [other] victims…[were] Wilma McCann…[in] October 1975…Emily Jackson…[in] January 1976…Irene Richardson…[in] February 1977…Patricia Atkinson…[in] April 1977…Jayne McDonald…[in] June 1977…Jean Jordan…[in] October 1977…Yvonne Pearson…[in] January 1978…Helen Rytka…[in] January 1978…Vera Millward…[in] May 1978…Josephine Whittaker…[in] May 1979…Barbara Leach…[in] September 1979…Marguerite Walls…[in] August 1980…[and] Jacqueline Hill…[in] November 1980…Sutcliffe…believed he was on a “mission from God” to kill prostitutes, although not all of his victims were sex workers….Sutcliffe was interviewed nine times during the course of the investigation but continued to avoid arrest and was able to carry on with his killings…

Like Houses

Useful idiots never see where “hate speech” laws inevitably lead:

[Useful idiots] in Norway are celebrating [what they imagine to be] a huge win after the country recently expanded its penal code…[on] hate speech to include gender identity and all forms of “sexual orientation”…The penal code states that those who are guilty of [wrongspeak] face a fine or up to a year in jail for private comments, and a maximum of three years in jail for public remarks. Furthermore, those charged [wrongthink in conjunction with] with violent crimes…will receive harsher sentences…

To Molest and Rape (#782)

“Police explorer” programs are nothing but grooming schemes for predatory cops:

Louisville Metro Police concealed at least 738,000 records documenting the sexual abuse of Explorer Scouts by two [rapist cops] — then lied to keep the files from the public…The [Louisville] Courier Journal last year requested all records regarding sexual abuse of minors…in the Explorer Scout program [by Brandon Wood and Kenneth Betts]…Police officials and the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office [claimed] they couldn’t comply, insisting all the records had been turned over to the FBI for its investigation.  But that was…[a lie].  In fact, the department still had at least 738,000 records, which the city allowed to be deleted.  The records could shed light on when department and city officials first learned of [the Rape Explorer]…program and what the officials…failed to do…about it…

Suppression

Politicians will not stop until they can censor the internet as they please:

…a single EU court within a single EU member state [has declared itself] the censor for the world…In…September…the Austrian Supreme Court ordered, pursuant to local defamation rules, that Facebook remove a post insulting a [politician]…keep equivalent posts off its site, and do so on a global scale…Facebook complied…[by making] the…post…inaccessible to users within Austria.  But it objected both to the global reach of the order and to the obligation to look for and keep other, equivalent posts off their site…the European Court of Justice sided with Austria…Under current practice,…global tech companies are [only] bound by local laws…within their jurisdiction…Think Germany’s hate-speech laws.  Or particular variants of the right to be forgotten. Or the Thai government’s prohibition on critique of the monarch.  Or Singapore’s limitations on what is deemed “fake news”…Under the Austrian court precedent, courts in any such jurisdiction would be more or less free to apply their local laws to compel not just local, but global takedowns of posts or comments that violate the vagaries (and often highly speech-restrictive) of local law.  And they could also require that copycat and equivalent posts be kept off—also on a global scale.  This creates a…race to the bottom, with the most censor-prone nation setting global speech rules…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#1062)

Blaming bad behavior on an imaginary “addiction” is no better as an accusation than as a defense:

Former Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry was widely known as a sex addict at the network before he raped a junior staffer, a new lawsuit charges…Fox…fired Henry…shortly before [Jennifer] Eckhart went public with her allegations in July…The suit…states that the network ordered Henry to undergo therapy for sex addiction in 2016 after it was revealed he’d had an affair with a Las Vegas stripper…“Everyone at Fox News knows that Henry is a sex addict. That’s no secret,” Fox Business anchor Liz Claman told Eckhart, according to the suit…

“‘Everyone at Fox News knows Tucker Carlson is a reptilian member of the Illuminati,’ Fox Business anchor Liz Claman told Eckhart…”

(State) Violence Against Women

Biden has a long history of using “violence against women” as an excuse for power grabs that increase state violence against women:

President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to end [un-state-approved] violence against women is long, detailed, and ambitious…but…[i]s conspicuously missing any mention of sex work…Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, first introduced by Biden in 1990, will be one of Biden’s top first 100 day priorities…a relatively short but important section of the plan outlines Biden’s intent to [censor the internet by]…creating a National Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse, giving more funding to law enforcement, and support for [more carceral] federal and state legislation [to use against sex workers who adverise online]…experts…have reservations about how this plan will…actually affect…the lives of…sex workers.  Leaving consensual, commercial adult content out of any plan for internet reform would be willfully ignoring how the internet largely works…

The Last Shall Be First (#1078)

Hungarian politicians are as potty-obsessed as their US counterparts:

…[the government of] Hungary…signalled its intention to…change the constitution to enshrine…so-called “Christian values”…The proposed constitutional amendment…is the latest assault on LGBT rights in the country, where legal recognition for gender changes was ended in May.  “Hungary protects children’s right to identify as the sex they were born with”…the amendment states…[it also] would ensure that only heterosexual married couples can adopt children…For years, Viktor Orbán’s government has relied on an anti-migration agenda…and some analysts suggest LGBT people may be the new target.  In Poland, the ruling populist Law and Justice (PiS) party has made the fight against so-called “LGBT ideology” central to its political messaging…The new laws will have to be debated in parliament, but Orbán’s Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority, sufficient to make constitutional amendments…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1085)

Is Hollywood finally starting to back off from promoting “sex trafficking” hysteria?

Melissa McCarthy and HBO Max have announced that they’re pulling their support for the evangelical nonprofit Exodus Cry as part of their “20 Days of Kindness” fundraising campaign…“We blew it,” McCarthy said in a video posted to Instagram…“We made a mistake and we backed a charity that upon further vetting stands for everything that we do not”…Exodus Cry frames itself as an anti-sex-trafficking group but in reality works to abolish sex work entirely.  Its founder, Benjamin Nolot, has called abortion a “holocaust” and homosexuality “an unspeakable offense to God”…the group has spent years lobbying to criminalize the purchase of sex and recently launched a campaign to shutter Pornhub…

To Molest and Rape (#1087)

Oh, what a surprise:  “A Harford County grand jury has added 10 counts of child pornography possession to the child sex abuse case against [typical and representative] Baltimore [cop] Donald P. Hildebrandt…

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 [A Biden victory] is not a victory for sex workers.  –  Penelope Saunders

A False Dichotomy 

Cathy Reisenwitz on the dogma that sex without “enthusiastic consent” is rape:

…most of our choices in life…[a]re not straightforwardly coercive or cooperative, but somewhere in-between…This leads me to the inevitable conclusion that consent versus coercion isn’t a binary.  It’s a spectrum…On one end of the spectrum you have slavery and rape.  On the opposite end you have enthusiastic consent.  But most choices fall somewhere in the middle…When we say we are “forced” to make a choice, we mean that there’s no acceptable alternative.  We say we’ve been forced to do something if the alternative is death or jail.  When we say we’re “pressured” to make a choice, what we mean is there’s no appealing alternative.  We say we’ve been pressured to do something if the alternative is unpleasant or inconvenient.  The difference then between force and pressure is a difference of scope, not kind.  They’re both coercion, but are different levels of coercion…

Don’t Take My Word For It (#873)

While it’s not surprising to see male sex work increase during the pandemic, I’m extremely skeptical of claims, such as those in this story, that the clients are predominantly female.  Anti-queer stigma is much higher in India than in the US, so naturally male sex workers there are going to claim – as some did for decades in the US – that most of their clients are female in order to save face.  But as usual, the claims in this story don’t ring true, and the quotes from the interviewees only serve to underscore that.

Pyrrhic Victory (#992) 

Seattle cops have a positive fetish for illegal surveillance:

…a…Seattle Police…detective…signed up for and used facial recognition app Clearview AI, which…i[s a] violation of the City of Seattle’s Surveillance Ordinance…Nick Kartes…signed up for Clearview in September 2019 using his “@seattle.gov” work email address…he logged into the service over 30 times, as recently as April 22…the devices used to log into Detective Kartes’ account were connected to the City of Seattle network…This follows an established pattern, highlighted this summer, where Seattle police regularly flaunt the law…

But don’t worry, toothless local laws will definitely stop this!

Panopticon (#993)

Amazon’s fascist collaboration with cops just keeps getting worse:

…While people buy Ring cameras and put them on their front door to keep their packages safe, police use them to build comprehensive CCTV camera networks blanketing whole neighborhoods.  This…allows police departments to [shift] the cost of buying surveillance equipment…onto consumers by convincing them they need cameras to keep their property safe…[and] evades the natural reaction of fear and distrust that many people would have if they learned police were putting up dozens of cameras on their block…Now…police in Jackson, Mississippi, have started a pilot program t[o convince]…Ring owners to patch the camera streams from their front doors directly to…police…footage [of] your…coming and going…your neighbors taking out the trash, and the dog walkers and delivery people who do their jobs in your street…can now be live streamed directly onto a dozen monitors scrutinized by police around the clock.  Even if you refuse to allow your footage to be used that way, your neighbor’s camera pointed at your house may still be transmitting directly to the police[, plus all cops need do is ask and Amazon will grant warrantless access to your camera without your consent]…


The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1033) 

Censors’ fixation on Pornhub spreads to Thailand:

Thailand’s government said…it had banned Pornhub and 190 other websites showing pornography, prompting social media anger over censorship…many Thai users trended the #SavePornhub hashtag on Twitter and criticised the shutting of a site in a country…which has a globally-known sex industry…A few dozen activists protested the block outside the digital ministry, holding banners saying “free Pornhub” and “reclaim Pornhub”…Internet research firm Top10VPN said it saw a spike in searches from Thailand for Virtual Private Networks (VPN), which help circumvent censorship, by 640%…after Pornhub was [censored]…

And India:

The Cyber Police agency of the Indian state of Maharashtra — the region that includes populous Mumbai — has formally accused several platforms of “transmitting sexually explicit and obscene content online”…[the sites include] Xvideos and Pornhub.  Inspector General of Police Yashasvi Yadav [made furtive movements in his pants while sharing his fantasy that]…”the actresses in these videos have been exploited, lured or compelled to perform the obscene acts. We will be treating the actresses as ‘victims’ and not ‘accused persons’”…

To Molest and Rape (#1048)

Since costumed rapists are essentially immune to criminal law, civil law has to do:

A new lawsuit [has been] filed against [typical and representative] Louisville [cop] Brett Hankison…a…sexual predator…who…[has] willfully, intentionally, painfully and violently…[raped at least 10 women over the years and achieved recent notoriety for the murder] of…Breonna Taylor…LMPD has…fired Hankison for his role in the [murder, but ignored all the rape complaints]…nine o[f the] women who…Hankison [raped have made statements in the lawsuit, filed by Margo Borders, a lawyer he raped in 2018]…

(State) Violence Against Women

Two hardline prohibitionists at the top do not bode well for sex workers:

…Phoenix Calida…[of] SWOP-USA…says of a Biden win, “I see things getting worse for sex workers, actually.”  Calida’s assessment is due in part to Biden’s sponsorship of the 1994 crime bill…“‘Tough on crime,’ which Biden has really promoted his entire career, is really not helpful at all to sex workers…Biden is like, ‘Let’s not defund the police, let’s give them more money!’”  Advocates’ concerns around…Kamala Harris, are both more numerous and concrete.  “You couldn’t get a candidate with a worse record on sex work,” says [Penelope] Saunders of [Best Practices Policy Project].  In 2008, Harris called San Francisco’s Proposition K—an attempt at halting the enforcement of laws against prostitution—“completely ridiculous.”  Harris also infamously pursued the shutdown of Backpage and the prosecution of the site’s owners despite warnings that shuttering the site would put sex workers in greater danger and make it harder to investigate sex trafficking cases. (It did.)  She also helped develop the devastating SESTA/FOSTA, specifically as a means of targeting Backpage…[and supports]…the EARN IT Act, a bill…which threatens sex workers’ ability to use encrypted messaging services…as well as free speech online…opponents of the bill…are calling it “SESTA/FOSTA 2.0.”…

Elephant in the Parlor (#1078)

Compare the ugly, racist, agency-negating whore stigma used by Democrats in this article to attack someone closely associated with Trump, to the ugly, racist, agency-negating whore stigma used by Republicans just a month earlier to attack someone closely associated with Biden, and then tell me again how they’re so different and why sex workers should trust either pack of fanatics:  “President Trump’s top campaign strategist, Jason Miller…admitted to hiring prostitutes and receiving sexual favors at multiple ‘Asian themed’ massage parlors, an industry known to have connections to sex trafficking rings…”  “Progressives” want sex workers to believe they’re on our side, but they go straight for the anti-whore slurs the second they think it will win them cheap points on the “other team”.

Social Distancing (#1084)

Prohibitionists don’t care who has to suffer to advance their twisted agenda:

India’s sex workers suffered a setback…following a U-turn by the country’s human rights body, which said [sex workers] should not be registered as workers or guaranteed financial aid from the government amid the fallout of COVID-19.  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) last month asked state governments to recognise sex workers as informal workers, which would have entitled them to benefits and aid from a $23 billion fund for India’s poor during the coronavirus pandemic…the watchdog’s non-binding advisory was hailed by [human rights experts]… as a boon for the rights of an estimated 800,000 sex workers across India, [but prohibitionists, led by the evil and deeply-derangd Sunitha Krishnan, worked to intimidate the commission by issuing veiled threats of expensive and troublesome legal complaints based in bad “]sex trafficking[” laws.  In response to these threats]…The NHRC…issued a new statement that said sex workers could not be registered officially or categorised as informal workers….[but] should instead be given help on “humanitarian grounds” during the pandemic…

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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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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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Vote, vote, vote
Vote, vote, vote
Unless you are a candied yam
‘Cause candied yams can’t vote.
  –  Charlotte

Since we’re getting close to both Halloween and the real horror of the US presidential election, I figured a horror cartoon about an election would be appropriate; any resemblance between the ending of the cartoon and one possible outcome of the real election is strictly intentional.  The links above it were provided by David Ley, Cop Crisis (x2), Radley Balko, Mark Draughn, Lenore Skenazy, and Jesse Walker, in that order.

From the Archives

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American cops seem to have become dissatisfied with merely brutalizing their victims; now, it seems, they feel they have to humiliate them as well.  A few years ago, Reason‘s Elizabeth N. Brown noticed that when cops hunt street workers, they often offer fast food so they can then make fun of these desperately-poor women by telling reporters (who obediently regurgitate whatever the pigs vomit into their mouths) that they requested to be paid in nachos or chicken McNuggets or whatever.  Or, they invent some ridiculous request so they can mock the sex worker trying to cater to it.  They also give their “stings” idiotic names so as to invite ridicule of those entrapped by them, and now they’re incorporating humiliation directly into their jailhouse torture:

Two [typical and representative screws] and their supervisor were charged…after an investigation found inmates at the Oklahoma County jail were [subjected] to the popular children’s song, “Baby Shark,” on a loop at loud volumes for extended periods of time.  At least four [prisoners] were subjected to the “inhuman” [torture] in an attorney visitation room of the jail last November and December…[while] forced to stand [for hours], hands cuffed behind them and secured to the wall…[the screws] were Gregory Cornell Butler Jr….[and] Christian Charles Miles…and [their supervisor was] Christopher Raymond Hendershott…District Attorney David Prater charged them with misdemeanor counts of cruelty to a prisoner and conspiracy…Miles confirmed that he and Butler…”used the…attorney booth as a means to…’teach [prisoners] a lesson’…the music was said to be a joke between Miles and Butler”…[but] put “undue emotional stress on the [prisoners] who were most likely already suffering from physical stressors”…Hendershott learned of the mistreatment on Nov. 23 but “took no immediate action to either aid the inmate victim or discipline the [screws]”…

Ha, ha, ha, so funny.  It has long been known that loud, repetitive noise is a kind of psychological torture; the US armed forces have used it in siege situations since the ’80s.  The fact that the weapon was in this case a ridiculous children’s song doesn’t change that fact that their victims were forced to endure the racket while restrained in a position that could cause serious physical damage, nor the reduction of human beings to playthings for the sadistic amusement of thugs whose moral development is on a similar level to their chosen song’s intended audience.  This year, Americans are finally beginning to notice the wanton savagery police inflict upon people unlucky enough to fall into their clutches; it won’t surprise me if the increased attention also reveals many, many more cases of brutal clowns trying to rob their victims of even the slightest shred of dignity.

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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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