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Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

I have no plans to stop fighting this war until there is no breath left in me.  And truth be told, I’m not even sure I could stop even if I wanted to.  –  “Ninth Anniversary

Ten years is a long time for one human to do anything without a break, much less publish a blog post without missing a single day.  But then, I’ve never been one for taking breaks; I’ve always considered them little more than a delay in whatever it is that I’m doing.  And when that “whatever” is fighting a war for self-ownership and human rights…well, as the epigram says, I’m not sure I could stop even if I wanted to.  Certainly, I’ve slowed down; when I first started this blog a decade ago, I used to publish an all-new essay every day, and the essays were much longer on average.  But as I exorcised at least a little of the righteous fury which fuels my activism, and my other activities expanded to take up more of my time, I was forced to fill an increasing number of daily slots with shorter, easier-to-write posts.  Only two days in the average week now see original essays, and I feature a lot more of what most would consider typical blog posts than in the past.  On the other hand, I’ve written lots of non-blog articles for magazines, books, etc, and I’m about to publish my fifth book; I’ve also got a documentary called The War on Whores and I give dozens of interviews for articles, radio, video, and TV every year, plus more public appearances than I can count.  So even though my blog isn’t growing as quickly as it once did (and, thanks to Google’s censorship, is seen by fewer new readers than in times past), my public presence is still growing.  And given that all of that public presence is dedicated toward fighting for my cause, I would consider that a win.

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Police killing is not the work of vigilant warriors defending society…and sometimes going too far: it is the…petty tyranny of a taxpayer-funded bureaucratic lobby group.  –  Lyman Stone

The Proper Study (#652)

Another study proves what sex workers have been saying all along:

In a new study just published in The Journal of Sex Research…men…said paid sex offered them a space where they could overcome their insecurities and low self-esteem and sidestep their awkwardness in approaching women…paid sex allowed for a shared understanding of what was (and was not) going to follow sex.  Both the man paying for sex and the sex worker understood the nature of the transaction…with a sex worker, men said they did not worry about being sexually inexperienced…Some men indicated that through paid sex they actually could learn new sexual skills that they might use with other women in other circumstances…Paid sex was also described as giving some men a non-threatening context where they felt safe to engage in sex despite their sexual concerns, including the fear of being unable to have an erection…The findings further expand [academic] ideas of what it is that men are really buying when they pay for sex and suggests [amateurs]…underestimate the amount of emotional labor that goes into sex work…

I Spy (#958)

A politician claims that spying isn’t actually spying:

A secretive unit of the Maine State Police…gather[s] information about groups and organizations even when they are not suspected of crimes, including people who are participating in protests…Michael Sauschuck, the [chief pig] commissioner of…Maine…testified at a…legislative hearing about…a federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by a state trooper…[who] was retaliated against after reporting that the intelligence unit illegally used surveillance tools to monitor innocent citizens…Sauschuck refused to directly respond to the allegations in the lawsuit…but…acknowledged under questioning that the center does [spy] on citizens, including groups that organize public protests…[yet still claimed]  “We’re not spying on people”…the Maine State Police might be using powerful new technologies to scan your face and intercept your cellphone signals, and don’t have to tell the public because of an unusual provision in state law…the center…also…participated in the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, which involves [ratting out people they spy on]…to federal agencies [based on flimsy suspicions and]…racial profiling…

The Missing Word (#981)

If only there were a concise word for smuggling humans to sell them:

…Paul Petersen plead guilty to the offense of Conspiracy to Smuggle Illegal Aliens for Commercial Advantage and Private Financial Gain…Petersen…orchestrated the travel of several pregnant women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the Western District of Arkansas…to arrange adoption of their children by families living in the United States…[even though that’s illegal under a] 1983 [compact between] the United States…and…the…RMI…

The Monsters Are Due (#1040)

The ugliest part of a peak moral panic: lynch mobs:

After a chaotic saga unfolded…centering around two missing teenage girls and a [Milwaukee house fantasized to be] a sex trafficking hub…police said…there is no indication the girls were ever there — or that the house was used for such activity.  The girls, ages 13 and 15, were found by one of their mothers more than three miles away…[but before that] three people [were] shot — including two 14-year-olds — plus…a house [was] set on fire twice and an unknown number of [people were] hurt by the tear gas and rubber bullets police fired into a scattered crowd…

Whimsical Notions (#1051)

Since the “trafficked slaves” myth isn’t getting results any more, the government is now claiming sex workers are actually spies:

Trafficked women in Bahrain, some working as prostitutes, are seeking to collect sensitive intelligence from U.S. sailors that they can later sell, according to [NCIS spook]…Joe Minucci…in [an indoctrination video]…“they sell that information, and that’s how they make more money in order to get themselves out of the [lucrative job] they’re in,” he said…

Bread and Circuses (#1051)

FOSTA just keeps splashing egg all over the feds’ stupid, violent faces:

For years leading up to the passage of FOSTA, we were told that Congress had to pass the law…because so many women were “at risk” due to trafficking….[on] Backpage…of course, the actual stats that were provided turned out to be fake and Backpage was seized before the law was even passed.  The charges against the founders did not include sex trafficking charges…with all of the moral panic around the need to pass FOSTA,…the DOJ had not used the law a single time to go after any “sex trafficking” site.  Instead, as we predicted, the law was being used in nuisance lawsuits…Finally…the DOJ made use of FOSTA in shutting down a website and arresting its operator…the DOJ conveniently mashes together sex work and sex trafficking, because that’s the kind of thing law enforcement likes to do…[so] plenty of…sex workers, who previously had relied on Backpage to remain safe and now relied on Martono’s sites, are again put in danger.  The Hacking/Hustling collective…put out a press release calling out what a stupid, counterproductive move this is…

The Cop Myth (#1052)

Even political conservatives are beginning to recognize the danger of police violence:

[Cops murder] about 1,700 Americans every year.  In other words, police killings have made up about one out of every twelve violent deaths of Americans between 2010 and 2018…including American military deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere during that window.  Indeed, more Americans died at the hands of [cops] during that period (about 14,400) than died while on active military duty (about 9,400).  Police violence in America is…disproportionate to the actual threats facing [cops]…historically, police unionization has led directly to increases in police killings, but no change in crime…When incompetent DMV workers are not fired, when abusive teachers are reshuffled around schools, when bureaucrats use administrative gimmicks to thwart the electorate’s desire to rein in excessive spending, we conservatives are quick to (correctly!) identify the pernicious work of public-sector unions.  Whereas all workers should have some say in their employment conditions, such as via unionization, public-sector workers already get a say in their employment conditions without a union: they get to vote on who their boss is!  Public sector unions give the bureaucrats double the “votes” of the rest of us…The difference is that, unlike other public sector unions, police unions have military-grade equipment they can use to violently crush protests against their abuses, and they are legally immune from most consequences.  They’re teachers’ unions, but with tanks and endless get-out-of-jail-free cards…

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

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Diary #521

Last Wednesday we did the roof of Chekhov’s cottage, which is to say he handed the boards up and I screwed them in place with my trusty cordless Hitachi power drill.  I’m going to need to go up there again this week to do the shingles (and you’ll see those pictures in the Bathhouse column, eventually).  I’m not exactly fond of doing rooves, but since we first moved to Oklahoma I keep getting elected to do them because I’m the smallest and lightest.  So, I’m actually kind of an old hand at it now, and I’ll try to get some good pictures when we do the bathhouse roof.  But the really good news from last week is that I was able to get my hair and nails done Saturday!  My own nails seem to have mostly recovered from the weeks of being unprotected by a layer of acrylic, because they’ve finally stopped hurting and I can use them normally again, without having to worry about breaking them or snagging them in my hair or clothes.  And now that we’re in the most anxiety-inducing part of the summer, I need all the help I can get to keep my nerves in order.

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Regular readers know that as the days grow longer, my brain becomes overstimulated by the excess of daylight, and it becomes increasingly difficult for me to slow down, relax and even sleep.  Well, this year I’m putting it to good use by plowing ahead on the bathhouse project, as you can see in my new regular Friday feature on it.  I’m also working on editing the essays for Ask Maggie, Volume I, and hoping to get it out in July; plus I’m still doing activist stuff, like appearing on Thaddeus Russell’s Renegade University Live tonight.  Tomorrow or Thursday I’m briefly returning to Seattle for my hair & nail appointments on Saturday, then on Sunday I’ll return to Sunset; before much longer I should also resume traveling, when the clients who have inquired about visits get their schedules straight.  It’ll be a while before I can relax again, and I can never do it as effectively as these critters can.  But if I’m going to be hyperactive, at least I’m getting things done!

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It’s not just that the police want to arrest somebody…they want to mete out punishment.  –  Michael German

Moloch 

Every school district in the country needs to rid itself of evil thugs who stalk and attack students:

Portland Public Schools will no longer have [cops stalking students in] its nine high schools, nor will the other two school districts inside Portland city limits…Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero…said the district…intends to increase spending on social workers, counselors and culturally specific supports for students…[a politician] announced she plans to introduce a resolution to…bar [uniformed pigs] from…school sporting events and other occasions…

In addition to brutalizing small children for childish behavior and terrorizing them for ordinary play, school pigs also frequently rape teenagers and even little girls.  They are a menace and should be abolished.

Rooted in Racism (#883)

Europeans would rather believe outlandish fantasies about ninja pimps than simply admit black women have adult agency:

Almost 1,000 Nigerian refugees [magically] disappeared from Dutch [concentration camps] last year, and [bureaucrats] are [fantasizing] many of them have been trafficked…The disappearances coincide with…the Netherlands…[trying to] sen[d them] back to Nigeria or Italy, [but the Dutch won’t admit their racism and so prefer to bloviate nonsense about]…Nigerian drugs and prostitution gangs…gain[ing] a foothold in Europe…”The women absolutely don’t want to go back to Italy,” one [camp] worker is quoted as saying….Warner ten Kate, who [uses the] human trafficking [narrative to] prosecut[e black people, pretends]…he is particularly concerned about the pregnant women, whose babies may be victims of illegal adoptions…

Out of Control (#944)

Fortunately, most “incels” are more of a danger to themselves than to others:

A southwest Virginia man who blew off his hand in an… explosives accident has been charged in federal court after [cops] say they found evidence he was making a bomb and wanted to target “hot cheerleaders” because of his sexual frustrations…Cole Carini of Richlands showed up at a hospital…with one hand blown off, fingers blown off his second and other shrapnel wounds.  He [claimed]…he’d been in a lawnmower accident.  But [cops] searched his property, and found explosives materials, rusty nails, pipes…pieces of flesh…[and] parts of a scorched letter that referenced tension “as he now approached the stage of hot cheerleaders” and “I will not be afraid of the consequences no matter what I will be heroic I will make a statement like Elliott Rodgers [sic]”…

Quiet Genocide

Like the US, China tortures people until they plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit just to escape the cage:

In the Chinese government’s vast network of re-education camps in Xinjiang province, the daily horror of internment [i]s infused with monotony and boredom.  [Prisoners a]re forced to endure countless hours of indoctrination and language classes, perched on small stools.  In some facilities, they ha[ve] to watch TV propaganda broadcasts praising President Xi Jinping for hours on end.  The slightest infraction, such as a whispered conversation, was met with swift and harsh punishment.  But among the many months spent locked up, some former detainees report that one day was different: The day when they were forced to pick one or several infractions from a list they were handed.  In essence, the [prisoners] had to retroactively choose the crimes for which they had been imprisoned…without being told why they had been detained in the first place.  After picking a crime from the list came a sham trial, in which the detainees had no legal representation and were convicted without evidence or due process of any kind…

Across the Pond (#1013)

Redbridge has a long history of harassing sex workers, but this kind of infantilization is a new low:

Loxford Service Station asked…for permission to sell alcohol 24 hours a day, with the condition that night-time sales would only be through a third-party delivery service…[but busybodies claimed the presence of booze] would [magically] contribute to crime in the area…[one politician masturbated furiously while bleating “sex trafficking” fantasies and the deeply stupid statement that]…“The availability of alcohol on Ilford Lane would…allow…”punters”‘, sex workers and their pimps access to alcohol”…

To Molest and Rape (#1014)

Rapists are attracted to police work for obvious reasons:

A Fontana [California cop was rewarded with a]…paid [vacation]…for…raping a 16-year-old girl four years ago…Nicholas Shawn Stark…drugged [the girl in order to rape her]…when [he] was 24 years old, before [he joined the cops, but they cannot]…fire [him] due to [pig protection] laws [of the kind that have precipitated the current national crisis]…

The Cop Myth (#1045)

Cops are responsible for more violence than any other social group in the US:

The “thin blue line” flag is the…centerpiece in a world of merchandise and policing philosophy, all built around the idea that the police are an embattled tribe of warriors, maligned and reviled by a nation that fails to appreciate their unique importance.  The blue line is a reminder that much of the policing community sees itself as separate from the rest of society — and…this well-armed population, imbued with the power to deprive citizens of life and liberty, does not take kindly to those who challenge its authority…“What we’re talking about here is a worldview that says that police are the only force capable of holding society together,” [said] Alex Vitale, a professor of sociology…and author of The End of Policing…The view turns on the notion that “without the constant threat of violent coercive intervention, society will unravel into a war of all against all”…Seen through this lens, “authoritarian solutions are not just necessary, they’re almost preferable.”  In the wake of [George] Floyd’s [murder]…the country is now witnessing what years of militarized conditioning, training, and culture have wrought:  a nationwide protest movement running up against a nationwide police riot…

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Last Saturday, Chekhov and I were spreading gravel over the bathhouse area, and just as we had come to the conclusion that we had pulled everything we could out of a pile left over from the French drain project, one of our neighbors showed up with a dump truck full (we had called him the day before but weren’t sure he had received the message) and gave it to me for free because I let him store his extra hay in my barn.  He’s a white man in his sixties of the type common in rural areas across the US:  a big, jovial, clever-but-uneducated, good-natured farmer.  So we chatted for a while, and naturally the protests came up; since very few older, rural white men have ever had a bad interaction with cops, I assumed there was no point in doing anything other than listen politely because arguing with him about it would be useless (possibly even counterproductive).  As I expected, he could not comprehend why people are talking about abolishing cops entirely; he has not had the life-experience and/or made a study of the topic, and therefore believes that cops exist to “protect and serve”.  But then he said something I didn’t expect: “They oughta lock them killer cops up!”  Despite believing the propaganda we’ve all been fed about the goodness of cops, he made no excuses for wanton murder and clearly stated his support for criminal penalties for criminal cops.  The cries and protests are being heard by the general public at last, and people are unhappy about the way cops can literally get away with murder.  And when you’ve lost ordinary older white rural men like my neighbor, you might as well give up.

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Sex work is becoming cool again.  –  Maggie McNeill

The Cop Myth

Cops are responsible for more violence than any other social group in the US:

Every time protests erupt after yet another innocent black person is killed by police, “reform” is meekly offered as the solution…The Minneapolis police implemented trainings on implicit bias, mindfulness, de-escalation, and crisis intervention; diversified the department’s leadership; created tighter use-of-force standards; adopted body cameras; initiated a series of police-community dialogues; and enhanced early-warning systems to identify problem officers…None of it worked…because “procedural justice” has nothing to say about the mission or function of policing.  It assumes that the police are neutrally enforcing a set of laws that are automatically beneficial to everyone…[but in reality,] over the last 40 years we have seen a massive expansion of the scope and intensity of policing.  Every social problem in poor and non-white communities has been turned over to the police to manage.  The schools don’t work; let’s create school policing.  Mental health services are decimated; let’s send police.  Overdoses are epidemic; let’s criminalize people who share drugs.  Young people are caught in a cycle of violence and despair; let’s call them superpredators and put them in prison for life.  Police have also become more militarized…The alternative is not more money for police training programs, hardware or oversight.  It is to dramatically shrink their function…

I Spy (#1001)

Violet Blue on protecting yourself from phone-based surveillance at protests:

…our phones are spying on us 24/7.  These little handheld sidekicks are…Big Brother’s most useful asset when it comes to tracking and surveilling anyone…The only way we can completely refuse to be tracked is not to use our apps, or leave our phones at home. But not using apps or going without a phone isn’t a realistic option…Smartphones leak your information and leave a trail of your information by design.  Your info can be discovered and your habits known by any bystanders who know how to look.  Hackers and developers have been trying to raise the alarm about phone security for years, but have gone practically ignored…

You Were Warned (#1007)

Basically the same thing Biden wants; now please tell me more about the “wings”:

Donald Trump [issued an executive order] in response to [Twitter]’s attempt to fact-check his tweets [which] proposes a radical modification of Section 230…The…order…“attempts to circumvent Congress and the courts in directing changes to long-established interpretations of Section 230….orders a review of alleged ‘unfair or deceptive practices’ by Facebook and Twitter”…and calls on the…FCC to “examine whether actions related to the editing of content by social media companies should potentially lead to the firms forfeiting their protections under Section 230″…Lawrence Walters, a First Amendment expert with extensive adult industry experience…[said] “Any order impacting Section 230 immunity will likely be challenged in court…Congress is the only body that can alter the broad protections granted by Section 230 but we are seeing some legislative activity in that realm as well — particularly the EARN IT Act“…

Surplus Women (#1010)

Government never, ever blames itself for the harm it causes:

On May 17, the RCMP charged a 17-year-old [who hacked Ashley Noelle Arzaga]…to death with a machete inside the Crown Spa with first-degree murder – terrorist activity…The parlour owner and another man were also injured in the February attack.  Police allege he carried out the murder in the name of the “incel” movement…but sex worker advocates say that while the RCMP is making a show of the case, the government is evading practical change to protect sex workers – namely, by decriminalizing their occupations.  “Laying a terrorism-related charge here…makes it look like we’re more concerned about sex workers’ deaths,” says international criminal law professor Heidi Matthews. “In reality that’s not true…We still have a whole matrix of criminal laws that make their existence and their work more precarious and less safe”…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1039)

Far too little, far too late: “Plaintiffs American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”)…Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (“CAASE”), Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago (“SWOP-Chicago”), [et al]…bring this Complaint against Defendant Clearview AI, Inc. (“Clearview”) to put a stop to its unlawful surreptitious capture and storage of millions of Illinoisans’ sensitive biometric identifiers…”  The suit is based on “the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), which [is intended to] protect…people against the surreptitious and nonconsensual capture of their biometric identifiers, including faceprints.”  That’s well and fine, but other states are far less fastidious about how the collect information on unsuspecting citizens.  And as we’ve seen, cops freely and surreptitiously exchange facial recognition data without any permission at all, even lying in reports and committing perjury in court to cover up how they obtained any given data.  So even if this suit succeeds in banning facial recognition technology in Illinois or even destroying Clearview, the facial recognition djinni was released from its bottle years ago, and has no intention of going back in.  I do find it interesting to actually see a sex worker organization involved in a lawsuit like this, though, so kudos to SWOP-Chicago.

Working From Home (#1042)

I’m extensively quoted in this article about everyone suddenly joining OnlyFans:

While, as far as McNeill is concerned, anyone selling their own erotic labor is in fact a sex worker, she acknowledges that as online sex work becomes more popular, “some people [are] claiming the mantle of sex worker who really shouldn’t because they think it’s going to give them cachet…The criticism that those ladies are leveling at the newcomers is a correct one, but at the same time you kind of have to give them the side eye and say, ‘Yeah, honey, you were new at one time too’”…while McNeill agrees that celebrity interest in sex work…will probably “suck money from women who really need it,” she remains hopeful that mainstream exposure from celebrities may eventually have a positive effect on the progress of sex work destigmatization…

Social Distancing (#1042)

Like its neighbor the Netherlands, Belgium only pretends to respect sex workers:

A hotel where many sex workers receive their clients briefly opened its doors…despite the coronavirus regulations forbidding it, because the rules were not clear…Despite hotels being allowed to stay open…the[se were forced by government diktat]…to close their doors as they are mainly used by [human beings whom authoritarians deem “nonessential”]…“a lot of those hotel owners probably think that, based on the measures for hotels, they are also allowed to open again,” [said] Daan Bauwens of UTSOPI, the Belgian union for and by sex workers…“We strongly advise sex workers to…stop working [and live on happy thoughts, sunshine and pixie dust]” said Bauwens…

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When I was younger, I made it a point never to say “I told you so” even when I had, because it struck me as annoying and arrogant even when it was justified.  Well, those days are gone.  I’ve been warning people about what I see coming, and largely being ignored (when I’m not being dismissed as paranoid or overly cynical), for decades now, so maybe if I rub some noses in it when events prove me right in spades, a few more will start fucking listening.  Take the current protests, for example; regular readers know I’ve been writing about police brutality for a very long time, and I’m certainly not alone in recognizing policing as a dangerous societal malady.  But even many soi-disant “leftists” who claim to be against police violence haven’t been against policing itself, and have long comforted themselves with fantasies about “reform”; many of them now seem to be waking up to the recognition that the only “reform” that will work is defunding, disarming, downsizing and eventually abolishing them.  Furthermore, these same people have blathered nonsense about gun control for years, foolishly concerning themselves with rare acts of violence by private citizens instead of recognizing the need for citizens (especially minorities) to be armed against the depredations of government actors; I notice they’ve been a lot quieter for the past week, and some have even started talking about the Second Amendment they until recently idiotically criticized as an anachronism.  And then there are the protests themselves; I’ve been predicting since at least early April that the first riots would occur on May 1st (I was off by one day; it was April 30th) and would become a major crisis by the end of May.  Obviously, the current riots are mostly about cop violence, but if you really think anger at government declaring them “nonessential”, stealing their livelihoods and “locking them down” like prisoners aren’t contributing factors, I have nothing to say to you.  Also:  if the whole idiotic “lockdown” scheme was really necessary to control the spread of the virus, why isn’t anybody panicking & shaming the protesters gathering in vastly larger crowds than their “leaders” declared acceptable?  I think that’s enough; you get the picture, and if I keep listing examples I’m just going to get more insufferable than I already am.  But Cassandra is done being polite, and isn’t ever going to let y’all forget that she warned y’all about that fucking horse.

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One of the things plague season has demonstrated to me is just how different my lifestyle is to that of most people.  Certainly, I’m losing money just like most small business owners, but fortunately, I have some generous readers, clients and friends who have been helping to ease that pain, and since I have for the past 17 months already been engaged in the process of shifting my business model to a smaller number of regular clients, the sudden drop in client contacts two months ago didn’t hit me as hard (financially or emotionally) as it did younger, less-established sex workers.  And given that my official residence (which has now become my primary residence) is on 11 acres of land 20 miles from the nearest town, most of the urban restrictions fell pretty lightly on my shoulders and gave me time to do a lot of long-neglected renovation.  Of course, the various restrictions (both real and made-up) are as annoying and frustrating to me as they are to any non-puritan, and I’m very concerned for the many small business owners I know who are being slowly strangled to death by politicians trying to save their own careers.  But for once, a disaster didn’t completely disrupt my life, as so many have in the past.  And I think that’s something I’ll be very thankful for over the next couple of years.

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