Archive for August, 2011

I went on down to de Audubon Zoo
An’ dey all axt fuh you;
Dey all axt fuh you, (fuh who?)
Well dey even inquired aboutcha

I went on down to de Audubon Zoo
An’ dey all axt fuh you
Da monkeys axt, da tiguhs axt
An’ da elephant axt me too.
  –  The Meters

I went on down to New Orleans the first week of this month, and while I didn’t have time to get to the Audubon Zoo this trip, I did manage to make it to a few of my old haunts (such as Harbor Seafood, Mona’s and Danny & Clyde’s, all described in my column of one year ago today).  I also managed to get down to the French Market to buy a few new dresses (including one that looks a lot like the picture in my June 6th column), but spent most of the time visiting friends (including Denise, whom I honestly think gets more beautiful every time I see her).  And as usual, I did a lot of talking to complete strangers, including the attendant who tended the breakfast setup on the concierge floor of my hotel.  And though the local accents were familiar to me, I could hear them all the more clearly for having been away for some time and I thought y’all might be interested in hearing a little about them.

Probably the best introduction to the accents, dialects and distinctive speech patterns of New Orleans and its environs is Yeah You Rite!, a 1985 documentary by Louis Alvarez and Andy Kolker.  It incorporated their earlier “A New Orleans Lexicon”, a short which I saw dozens of times as filler on WYES-TV (New Orleans’ PBS station) when I was in high school and university (my epigram comes from the song featured in the film).  Incidentally, George Reinecke, the scholar featured in that film, taught my “History of the English Language” course at UNO.  Another clip featured on that linked page, “Multiplicity”, explains and shows examples of the major New Orleans accents; the very first one we hear in the video is an example of the “Yat” dialect, the Brooklynish lower class white patois spoken by the escort I’ve called Linda; it is named for its speakers’ characteristic greeting, “Where y’at?”  My own accent is a fairly general American one, but those with very good ears can detect traces of Uptown (where I was educated) pronunciation and perhaps an occasional Cajun French word such as couillon (silly person) or frisson (goose bumps) besides the more usual New Orleans terms as featured in the video.

One term which is mentioned in the documentary but not really fully explained is lagniappe, a peculiar New Orleans term meaning basically “bonus”,  something extra given by a merchant to good customers; for example, the man from whom I buy my dresses always throws an extra skirt, scarf or shawl of his choosing into my bag (an unusually generous lagniappe, to be sure).  The word isn’t French; as Professor Reinecke explained in our class, it’s originally from the Quechua yapay (to add), which is to this day used in much the same way in the Andes.  The Spanish, finding it a useful term, used it in their New World colonies as la ñapa, and when the largely-French inhabitants of New Orleans borrowed it in turn from their Spanish rulers (Spain held New Orleans from 1769-1801), the pronunciation and spelling were Gallicized to lagniappe.

Yeah You Rite! was made in the early ‘80s, long before Hurricane Katrina, and though all those old accents are still prominent I also heard many non-New Orleanian accents on my recent trip:  Vietnamese accents, general Southern accents, and lots of American Standard due partly to the omnipresence of television and partly to the large influx of outsiders who moved in post-Katrina.  Globalization and mass media tend to promote homogenization, and the Katrina disaster sped up the process; in a few more decades the old accents, terms and customs of New Orleans will be nothing but a memory, a parade of ghosts second-lining into history along with the culture which once made the Crescent City unique.

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In fact, now I come to think of it, do we decide questions, at all? We decide answers, no doubt: but surely the questions decide us? It is the dog, you know, that wags the tail—not the tail that wags the dog.  –  Lewis Carroll

It’s time once again for me to answer questions from readers; the first such column appeared on September 21st of last year, and we’ve been doing it every month since then!

What are your views on polygamy, polygyny, polyandry and the poly lifestyle in general?  I ask because I am a polyamorist with two boyfriends and am quite a happy person. They are, of course, free to pursue other women, that’s just the way our dynamic is set up at the moment.  Do you believe that it is acceptable that both men and women should enter into group relationships with free consent, or do you view these relationships as too susceptible to becoming coercive and therefore abusive environments?

My view on polyamory is that whatever works for any number of people is nobody else’s business, as long as they’re honest with one another.  In my view, two boyfriends means thrice as much work, but if you enjoy it nobody has the right to tell you it’s “wrong” or unhealthy.  And frankly, I think all the cultural brouhaha about “coercion” is doomed to vanish before much longer; everyone coerces everyone else to one degree or another, and unless the coercion is forcible, i.e, by threat of violence or other serious consequences, I can’t see where it’s the business of the state to interfere in it.  What’s worse is the astonishing hypocrisy of “authorities” pontificating about coercion while dispatching armed thugs to enforce all of their own coercive demands by use of threats against life, liberty and property.

I have a question, I hope you don’t regard it too puerile. I think a lot of us men spend some time wondering about women’s preferences in regard to men; what I mean is, how big is big for a man, what is the real average and what look or type do most women really prefer?  I mean, I know what porn suggests women vastly prefer, but I wonder how realistic that is. 

I don’t think it’s puerile at all; after all, I did considerable obsessing about my flat-chestedness until I got my boob job, and that’s kinda-sorta the female equivalent of men worrying about penis size.  On top of that, men tend to be much more quantitative than women are, and penises aren’t the only thing about which men tend to believe that “bigger is better”.  Because I do recognize that this issue is an important one for men, I tackled it less than two months into my blog in my column of September 8th, 2010, and then again more briefly in my December Q & A column.

I’m a white girl who is very attracted to Asian men, and if I happen to mention this men of other ethnicities (especially white men) get completely, irrationally unhinged; it’s even happened with male friends whom I know only from internet forums.  They have no vested interest in my life, possibly live hundreds or thousands of miles from me, and are frequently in committed relationships of their own.  Yet, my mere mention of my preference sends them right over the edge.  Once or twice, I’ve had female friends excoriate me because I’m not open to dating other ethnicities – like the equal opportunity laws should apply to my dating life as well.  This is rare though, it’s usually males who have a real problem with my interracial dating preferences.  What do you think this is about? 

I think there are a couple of different things going on here.  First, there’s still a lot of unconscious racism in people and many are uncomfortable with those who date or marry outside their race; they often won’t say anything to people of their own sex who do it, but they’ll attack members of the opposite sex.  I think that’s due to vanity; they hate being told they haven’t even got a chance because of your preference, even if they weren’t interested or available anyway.  I once had a short guy jump all over me for liking tall men; like your male friends, he only knew me on the internet and was happily married.  And I’ve read a number of scathing opinions from black women about black men who date white women, even if the black men in question are celebrities and/or the women commenting are in committed relationships.

Your female friends, however, are a different story; I think that’s just a case of what my friend Philippa used to call the “enlightenment police”, the people who think their ideas about proper living need to apply to everyone else’s personal preferences.  In that sense, they’re something like militant vegans or people who take it as a personal affront that I have no interest in watching Brokeback Mountain.

Some form of this question has been asked several times about several different columns:  I enjoyed your column of (x date), but it was rather superficial and I wanted to know why you didn’t mention y?

Unlike most bloggers, I maintain a fairly tight column format; I publish every day, and with rare exceptions (higher or lower) every essay runs 750-1500 words (it was a bit higher when I started, but I eventually found this length most comfortable and, more importantly, sustainable).  And even though some of my columns are only tangential to my primary subject, harlotry, I try not to wander too far afield.  Because of both of these factors, length and scope, I’m often only able to give a cursory overview of a very broad and complex subject.  I have faith in my readers, however, and I always encourage them to further exploration of any topic about which they’d like to know more than the mere introduction I’m able to provide herein.

One Year Ago Today

Red Shoes Lady” tells the story of my relationship with my “little girl”, Denise; you’ll understand the title after reading it.

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Faith…tries to retain a primitive mental condition on merely sentimental grounds.  It is unwilling to give up the primitive, childlike relationship to mind-created and hypostatized figures; it wants to go on enjoying the security and confidence of a world still presided over by powerful, responsible, and kindly parents.  –  Carl Jung

The universe is a very complex place.  When human civilization was young we weren’t really able to grasp how complex, so we imagined that most things were largely as they appeared to be and that  the mysteries of the world were all caused by intelligent, free-willed beings like ourselves, only more powerful.  Thus was religion born; in its earliest form it served to explain the world, to give emotional comfort and to provide a unifying structure over related (but separate) groups of people, thus allowing organization of tribes into cities and nations.  But as time went on, humans developed science (which explained things better than religion ever did), civil government (which organized things at least as well as religion ever did), and social and political philosophies which…well, two out of three ain’t bad.  And thus religion became a solution in search of a problem, and so it remained until the increasing complexity and uncertainty of the modern world caused many people, overwhelmed by a world they could not understand, to retreat into religions and religion-like belief systems which promised them simplicity and certainty.  Since these systems are rigid and simplistic, they cannot possibly describe the world as it is; they therefore exclude facts which do not fit the picture by denying or simply ignoring them.  A simple, static view of the world is impossible unless one considers only part of the picture.

Sex is one of the most complex of human realities; it is dark, violent, chthonic, animalistic and occurs in a bewildering multiplicity of forms, yet forms the basis of our most powerful emotions and most enduring social relationships and is an intrinsic part of the human life-cycle (every one of us is the product of heterosexual copulation).  Small wonder that it makes nearly everyone uncomfortable to one degree or another, and that humans have been trying to control it, individually and collectively, since practically the dawn of civilization.  Primitive societies and religions had few sexual laws, but as humanity aged cultures felt an increasing need to make laws against sexual behavior they considered somehow disturbing.  Due to the fact that though the mother of a child is always known, the father never actually was until DNA testing was invented, most of these laws at first concentrated on controlling female sexuality so paternity could be ascertained with a reasonable degree of certainty (in theory, anyhow); the laws which applied to males mostly dealt with incest, bestiality and that sort of thing.  For reasons we’ve discussed before Judaism had an unusually high number of sex laws, and when the followers of a certain 1st-century rabbi managed to build their sect into an international phenomenon those sex laws went with them; when combined with the Platonic distrust of the material world absorbed from the Gnostics, they engendered a rejection of sexuality more aggressive and complete than that of any previous religion.

But though Europe was entirely Christian in name by the end of the first millennium CE, a pagan view of sexuality was still the norm among most of the population (especially the lower classes) until the Protestant Reformation, when the Church’s light-handed supervision of politics and broad tolerance of what it considered minor vices were replaced in many areas by near-theocratic governments and total suppression of vice.  Laws derived from religious teachings became more and more common, ebbing and flowing in waves until the “social purity” crusade of the late 19th century succeeded in establishing anti-sex laws based in a rigid, Protestant interpretation of Christian morality over virtually the entire Western world.  And though these laws are still the norm in the United States, they are beginning to erode here and have already largely decayed in most other Western countries.  Those of us who believe in self-determination, individual liberty and other such rational principles feel this is a good thing, but those who are disturbed by moral complexities and afraid of self-reliance yearn for a time when puritanical notions of Christian morality were enforced at gunpoint.  So they join religious groups whose avowed doctrine is the eradication of “sin” and the promotion of laws against prostitution, porn, homosexuality and other behaviors they perceive as “immoral”.

But lest one believe that these people are thoroughgoing hypocrites, consider this August 21st article from CNN about various Christian anti-porn “therapy” programs (the link seems very temperamental, so I’ve saved it in PDF form just in case you can’t get it to work).  Most of those interviewed are men who have bought into the twisted delusion that masturbation or even looking at pictures of women to whom they aren’t married is a form of infidelity, largely based on a literal reading of Matthew 5:28 (“whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”) and an 18th-century interpretation of the story of Onan.  This is really nothing new; the idea that some kind of “therapy” can prevent masturbation and “lascivious thoughts” dates to the end of the 19th century.  What is new, though by no means surprising, is the fusion of Christian dogma with feminist rhetoric and “sex addiction” pop psychology; “addiction” is portrayed as an outside force which tempts the “pure” mind to fall into “sin” and thus causes it to depart from “God’s plan”, just as devils were once imagined to do.  Some of the programs are simply ordinary therapy with a Christian component; others are a more equal fusion, and still others rely largely or entirely on the imagined power of prayer to exorcise unholy lust.  Web-based services hawk porn-detection spyware that sends copies to the user’s spouse or a friend in order to shame him into refraining.  And as you can probably guess, practitioners of each method strongly criticize all the other ones.

Nor is it only men who join these programs; because women are generally less at ease with normal sexuality than men are, the majority of anti-sex crusaders are and always have been women.  In the past female sexuality was not a subject “proper” women would discuss in reference to themselves, so the fingers of accusation were (and still are, in the case of neofeminists) pointed outward at other women.  But now that female sexuality has been removed from the dark cupboard in which it was kept for centuries, women who are uncomfortable with their own sexuality are now free to hop on the self-loathing bandwagon and pronounce themselves “sex addicts” and “porn addicts” just like men.  The CNN story rightfully treats Crystal Renaud’s “Dirty Girls Ministries” as part of the larger Christian anti-porn, anti-masturbation movement, but an article in the September Utne Reader rather oddly chooses to portray it as an isolated phenomenon.  Considering the magazine’s target audience this was probably done in order to sell the “feminist” angle, but I wonder if the fact that some feminists really do believe male masturbation to be adultery might not have something to do with it.  Whatever the reason, the writer, like a Christian anti-sex “therapist”, is only presenting part of the picture.

One Year Ago Today

Whore Madonnas” offers an anecdotal refutation of the Madonna-whore duality by relating the stories of three women who only became whores because they were Madonnas first.

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A false sense of security is the only kind there is.  –  Michael Meade

On August 16th, a federal appeals panel in Washington, D.C. rejected a challenge to the District of Columbia’s sex offender registry on the grounds that it is a “civil system of registry” (like driver’s licenses) and “not an additional [and unconstitutional] criminal penalty.”  This is, of course, total bullshit; registries restrict where registrants are allowed to live (often to the point of making it virtually impossible for them to live anywhere and exposing them to police persecution via shaming tactics and nuisance charges); they violate registrants’ right to privacy and safety by publishing their names and pictures online and in print, thus making them targets for harassment and even murder; and they restrict registrants to low-paying, dead-end jobs, and force them to modify their behavior in bizarre ways (such as turning their lights off at Halloween, posting signs in their yards or answering their doors with the phrase, “I’m a registered sex offender”).  Even when registrants travel, they may be branded by huge orange “sex offender” labels on their driver’s licenses or state IDs.  To pretend all this isn’t punishment is disingenuous in the extreme; in fact the only support the court could come up with for this outrageous judgment was that “the registry is housed in an administrative agency, not in a court office or in an agency charged with carrying out punishment.”  By that logic, beating someone to death with a desk stapler isn’t murder because a stapler isn’t generally used as a weapon.

But even if you believe that sex offender registries are constitutional, even if you believe that a lifetime of punishment for a non-capital crime isn’t excessive, and even if you ignore the fact that 95% of the people on such registries are there for non-violent “offenses” which don’t involve children (such as soliciting prostitutes, public urination or older teenagers having sex with younger ones), there’s yet another argument against the registries:  They don’t work, as detailed in this August 18th Chicago Tribune column by Steve Chapman:

…Sex offender registries once sounded like an urgent necessity.  They came in reaction to publicized crimes in which children died at the hands of convicted sex offenders.  One of the most shocking involved a 7-year-old New Jersey girl, Megan Kanka, who in 1994 was raped and strangled by a paroled child molester living across the street from her home.  New Jersey enacted “Megan’s Law,” subjecting sex offenders to registration and community notification…Today, all 50 states maintain registries and make at least some of the information available to the public.  But this was a reasonable notion that has been damaged by indiscriminate expansion.  It’s one thing to notify neighbors when a serial rapist moves in.  Many states, however, lump frisky teens in with violent adults.  Others…include mopes who were caught trolling for prostitutes or urinating in public.  Some states also put broad curbs on where convicted sex offenders may live.  In Miami, many of them have taken up residence under a causeway for lack of an alternative.  This outcome may not warrant sympathy, but it makes it harder for police and citizens to keep tabs on them.

Such flaws would be of minimal consequence if the laws served to prevent crime.  The surprising revelation is they don’t.  A 2008 report funded by the U.S. Justice Department found the original Megan’s Law in New Jersey to be a nonevent.  The policy, researchers documented, “showed no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offenses” and “has no effect on reducing the number of victims involved in sexual offenses.”  The zero effect had a cost above zero — nearly $4 million annually for the 15 counties included in the study.  A more comprehensive study was undertaken by Amanda Agan, a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of Chicago, and published recently in the Journal of Law and Economics.  Analyzing data from across the country, she detected no tangible gains from this approach.  “Rates of sex offense do not decline after the introduction of a registry or public access to a registry via the Internet, nor do sex offenders appear to recidivate less when released into states with registries,” she writes.  Evidence from Washington, D.C., shows no connection between the number of sex offenders on a block and the rate of sex crimes.

That doesn’t mean you and I are crazy to prefer knowing about the pedophile next door.  But it suggests that the information offers no actual benefit.  After all, most convicted sex offenders do not go on to be arrested for new sex offenses, and more than 90 percent of child victims are assaulted not by strangers but by relatives or other people they know.  Sex offender registries may cause parents to focus on the remote peril while ignoring the more pertinent one.  And, as in the examples cited earlier, they can inflict harsh punishment that departs from common sense and does nothing for public safety.  Shielding citizens from vicious predators is unquestionably one of the central functions of any sound government.  Megan’s Laws were enacted in the sensible pursuit of that goal.  What they offer in practice, though, is counterfeit comfort.

Chapman’s a lot more conciliatory than I am, but then I never thought the registries sounded like an “urgent necessity” and in fact I argued against them from the time they started popping up like mushrooms.  Also, I think relying on government to protect oneself is both infantile and foolish, and though I didn’t realize (in those pre-internet days) that the rate of recidivism for sex crimes is actually lower than for other crimes, the fact that the registries don’t work is hardly a “surprising revelation” to me because I knew even then that the vast majority of sex offences were committed by acquaintances.

So, the registries make a mockery of justice, shred the constitution, create a permanent criminal underclass and don’t even accomplish what they were designed to accomplish, but that’s not all; as one of my favorite non-sex bloggers pointed out in a Forbes   column last summer, they might actually make neighborhoods more dangerous:

…in five states, a man can end up on the registry for having sex with a prostitute.  In 13 states, it is a registerable offense to urinate in public, and in 32 states, it’s just as bad to be caught streaking.  Yes, streaking.  That means that when we look at a little map of our neighborhood and it’s covered with red “Sex Offender” dots, there’s often no way of telling whether the guy down the block is a child rapist or a jerk wearing a headband (and nothing else), bent on re-living the Carter years.  Seeing a bunch of dots is enough to make us lock our kids inside, where they get fat, bored and addicted to “Halo 3,” because we think it’s “Halo 3” outside.  Goodbye, any sense of community!  Which is ironic because community–knowing and looking out for each other–is exactly what makes neighborhoods safer.

The author of that column, Lenore Skenazy, writes Free-Range Kids, a blog dedicated to the proposition that the modern bubble-wrap school of parenting is creating a generation of dependent, neurotic closet-cases.  Skenazy advises parents to let their kids develop self-reliance by doing things for themselves and on their own without 24-hour parental surveillance.  She’s written on the topic of sex-offender registries a number of times, most recently on July 21st in reference to this story (as featured on The Agitator).  Take a close look at the first response to Skenazy’s column, then #42 and #55 on The Agitator; as long as there are people like that commenter (I’m reasonably certain it’s the same guy on both blogs), who actually equate teenage bullying with forcible rape and believe it’s perfectly reasonable to condemn people to a lifetime of punishment and stigma for acts committed at the age of 14, dismantling these registries is going to be an uphill battle no matter how ineffective (or even counterproductive) they are proven to be.

One Year Ago Today

Just Plain Weird” describes several calls which simply defy categorization.

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When anything goes, it’s women who lose.  –  Camille Paglia

I’m sure most of you have noticed that all over the internet and even in the real world, feminists are bemoaning the fact that most young women nowadays don’t identify as feminists.  Some of them disingenuously blubber “but feminists are only people who think men and women should be equal!” thus completely ignoring the excesses committed in the name of “feminism” by the neofeminists and those who let them take control of the feminist movement three decades ago.  Others simper about “ingratitude” and puff themselves up about all the “victories” won by second-wave feminism, ignoring that A) as Thaddeus Russell points out, most of the important rights were won by whores, not feminists; B) other important rights (like woman suffrage) were won by first-wave feminists now long dead; C) the widespread employment of women throughout the early 20th century (and especially in the Second World War) had already started an inexorable process of increasing equality of which second-wave feminism was more a symptom than a cause; and D) those rights which were indeed won by second-wave feminists are overshadowed by the damage they’ve done to gender relations in the Western world and especially in the United States.  And then there are the neofeminists, shrieking about how all men are evil oppressors and sex is a tool of the Patriarchy; is it any wonder young girls who like men and enjoy life want to distance themselves as much as possible from these harpies?

It was inevitable that any philosophy whose entire rationale is dedicated to ignoring biology (and at its worst, driving a wedge between the sexes) would eventually fade away and die; Mother Nature will have Her way, and those who ignore Her do so at their own peril.  But feminism isn’t gone yet, and the word is still a politically correct one even if the tenets attached to it are losing popularity, so we’re now seeing all sorts of ideas grouped together under the umbrella of “third wave feminism”, which collectively understands that there is such a thing as biology, that men and women are different, and that there is no single “correct” way for women to behave (which is the movement’s single greatest break from orthodox first- and second-wave feminism).  So it’s not at all surprising to me to see a woman who clearly rejects “social construction of gender”, and advocates that young women reclaim our gender’s natural role as sexual gatekeepers, still wanting to call herself a feminist.  Her name is Toni Nagy, the article in question appeared in Huffington Post on August 10th, and while some of her phraseology is odd (by “dry humping” she seems to mean snogging and petting rather than literal dry humping) and she hits a few sour notes (such as using “whore” as a synonym for “slut” and failing to recognize the role actual whores play in mopping up the male sexual overflow), her general premise is sound and archeofeminist:

How many people’s mouths would you stick your finger in?  A lot.  I would stick my finger in a lot of people’s mouths.  But how many people would you let stick their finger in your mouth?  Not as many!  There is a biological difference between the way women and men experience sex, and each gender should view and treat sex in its own way.  I think women need a velvet rope and a self-important doorman for their vaginas, monitoring who gets access.  If you’re not on the list, you are not coming inside.  I am not suggesting a return to an archaic repression of female sexuality, expecting women to be virgins even after they have given birth.  The double standard of the male stud and female slut is not only outdated, but also makes no sense.  Who are all these guys sleeping with if no one is supposed to put out?  Most likely any self-possessed woman is going to spend at least one period of her life on a whore tour and still have the t-shirt to match.  Discovering different sides of your sexual self is often achieved through multiple partners, and I think sampling the variety is part of the human experience.  But after you have indulged your inner whore, there comes a time to embrace your inner prude as well.

… The more you orgasm, the more oxytocin is released in your brain, which is the “bonding hormone.”  Most likely, you will feel physically and physiologically attached to that guy whose penis was inside you.  Go figure.  Even if you think you don’t “want anything serious” you probably still wonder, question, ponder “where is this all going?”  Of course, not all sex has to be about relationships, but denying the connection between emotions and sex is ignoring the complexity…That is why I am an advocate for dry humping.  It honors the involvedness of sex, giving you time to actually sort out how you both feel about each other, but still leaves something to build up to.  And the likelihood of you feeling like crap because a guy you wiggled around with never called is less than if he actually penetrated your panties.  But if you are both attracted to each other, the dry humping session will only make you more so.

This is the thing about attraction.  Because of birth control, be it medicinal or condoms, women have the freedom to sleep with men they would never procreate with.  But the majority of studies indicate that baby making potential is the main facilitator of lust.  From smell indicating a compatible immune system and gene pool for breeding, to pheromones, to symmetry, to signs of fertility.  We are pushed by our animal instincts towards making more humans…Yet if you audition people with the dry hump, your restraint will not only benefit you, but your fellow female sisters as well.  By being a little prude, you are helping the male species remember that being inside a woman’s body is actually a really big deal…Going home with someone who bought you a beer is hardly worth letting them inside your body.  The harder a guy has to work to get into your pants, the better he will treat the girl wearing them.  I don’t think I have ever regretted waiting to sleep with someone, but I sure as shingles have regretted sleeping with someone too soon.

Anyone who’s ever done sex work and talked to other girls or paid attention on hooker boards knows the truth of Nagy’s last point:  as an older girl told me when I first started, “the less they pay, the more they want.”  As I’ve discussed before, I would sometimes deal a little if the client was polite and claimed not to have $300, but the lower I went the less appreciative the client, and my standing advice for working girls is NEVER to charge less than $200 for any block of time, no matter how short; anything less than that is too close to free for most men to appreciate.  My amateur sisters can learn from this; even though you don’t charge a set fee, you need to set some “price” (length of relationship, certain conditions being met, etc) and stick to it if you want the men you sleep with to actually appreciate you.

One Year Ago Today

Marilyn” is the story of one of the first girls who worked for me, whom I still think about frequently…and rarely without tears.

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It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.  –  Abraham Maslow

The principle known as “Maslow’s Hammer” due to its popularization by psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1966 The Psychology of Science actually first appeared in 1964 in the writings of the philosopher Abraham Kaplan; he called it “The Law of the Instrument” and stated it as “Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.”  One year ago today I wrote about the way that the neofeminist/Christian campaign against sexual freedom has been disguised by a revival of the century-old “white slavery” hysteria; in order to drum up public fervor against a victimless crime, prohibitionists found it necessary to define all prostitutes as victims.  And having defined everything as a nail and released a squad of goons whose only tool is brute force, we shouldn’t be terribly surprised if the result is an awful lot of pounding.

The following is edited from an August 9th article on the CNN Hammer Project:

“Hello?  Hey, what are you doing, girl?  You just woke up?  You going to be free to hang out in a little bit?”  Shane, a vice unit undercover investigator, is on the phone with a woman who placed an online ad offering adult services.  “Okay I’m going to head down to the Disneyland area and get a hotel.”  He’s making a date, and choosing his words carefully.  “I just want to make sure I get what I need.  Are you bringing condoms or do I need to bring condoms?  You’ve got some?  And it’s 200 for an hour right?”  Shane has become an expert at scoring that important criminal admission over the phone – making sure there is no confusion that sex is expected on this date.  “From what I found, sometimes you can use too much jargon,” Shane explained.  “If you use too many street terms you can come off like a cop so I almost talk to them like, “Hey this is what I’m looking for” – just common terms and maybe throw in just a little bit of street jargon.  “If you call them rude or real vulgar they’ll just hang up on you.  So, to them it’s a business and they run it like it’s a business, so there’s that fine dance you have to do with them in negotiation you have to play to get the deal to work.”

I felt like I had to take a shower after reading this.  Note the use of condoms as evidence, flying in the face of every principle of public health; the ridiculous idea that escorts will respond well to “street jargon” (in fact, most hate and barely tolerate it) and the twisted logic of recognizing that escorts are businesswomen while treating them like criminals and then pretending that they’re victims:

This is the first step in a human trafficking operation by the vice unit.  Next, the team will wait for Shane’s date at a local hotel, hoping to eventually grab the date’s pimp.

Because, of course, all independent escorts MUST have pimps, and they’ll try to find a driver or boyfriend they can hang the label on; the hammer needs a nail.

Shane works for Anaheim Police Department – one of a raft of agencies that make up the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force or OCHTTF…In recent months, the fight against prostitution has been refocused and now the prostitutes are treated as victims.  “It’s not knocking what we did before,” explained Sergeant Craig Friesen, head of Anaheim’s vice unit.  “You’d go out, arrest the girls, you do John stings, you arrest the Johns, but with those arrests they’re often low-grade misdemeanor arrests where the people either receive a very minimal sentence or they’re released, oftentimes working in the street 24 hours later.  “With us changing our focus to trying to arrest the pimps, pimping carries a three year mandatory sentence here in California, so to us we have more of an impact because if we can arrest one pimp we can in theory shut down three or four girls because if their pimp’s out, it gives them the opportunity to escape the life that they’re in.”

Are these people actually capable of higher-level cognitive functions?  They specifically target online escorts, but then vomit out this puerile “pimp and ho” garbage about “walking the street” and “escaping the life they’re in”.  It’s as though they just mixed up a bunch of ignorant stereotypes without any regard for whether the results make sense and served the results to CNN.

The Orange County task force is one of 42 federally funded human trafficking task forces across the United States.  Many agencies are part of the task force – from local police departments like Anaheim and Westminster, to federal agencies like ICE and the IRS, which help with immigration and translation issues.  The FBI lends agents to the task force, and one agent frequently works with Anaheim’s vice unit via the FBI’s domestic child sex trafficking task force known as Innocence Lost.

By this clever shell game, federal funds are illegally diverted (there is no federal prostitution law) to local agencies; when private corporations do this it’s called “money laundering” and it’s a serious felony.

…“I think what I’m struck most by is the similarity between the stories,” said Heidi Thi, the supervisor of the human trafficking program at CSP.  “I could have somebody who was sold as a child in China and brought here to Orange County to work as a slave in somebody’s house, or I could be talking to a domestic minor who’s been trafficked for sex who was from Northern California and was down here in Orange County – and it’s striking how similar those stories can be”…Anaheim is the task force’s newest member, and only nine months after receiving federal human trafficking grant money, the team has seen great success.  Sergeant Friesen said the original goal was one pimping arrest in the first year.  The arrest from Shane’s date was the 13th in the first nine months.  He added: “Once we started looking for it – and almost stopped ignoring it – we started finding it everywhere.”

In other words, Heidi has a hammer and is struck by the fact that everything looks like a nail to her.  And once Sergeant Friesen was issued his shiny new federal hammer, he “started finding [nails] everywhere.”  If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’re not a bit surprised.

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Adults are prone to create myths about the meaning of adolescence.  –  Louise J. Kaplan

One year ago today I wrote about those who want to “rescue” whores from lives they consider “degrading”, “disgusting”, “filthy”, “sinful”, etc.  This desire is, of course, based in what I referred to as the “bizarre yet prevalent notion that sex is somehow intrinsically different from every other human activity even when it has no chance of resulting in pregnancy.”  The rescuers believe whores to be victims, helpless and incompetent to make our own decisions; in that respect they lump us together with adolescents, another group commonly believed to be childlike and unable to understand the terrible “danger” of human sexuality.

I’d be the last person to deny that there is as much danger in sexual relations as there is in any human interaction; when strong emotions are involved, are any of us safe?  But that’s not what the sexophobes are afraid of; they seem to believe that there is a magic, contaminating aura to sex itself, and that even looking at or sharing “dirty pictures” can somehow damage the imaginary “innocence” of teenagers.  I often wonder if the adults who believe in this “innocence” are suffering from some form of amnesia or delusion; don’t they remember what they were like as teens?  Yet they insist on mouthing these ridiculous platitudes about “childhood” and “innocence” when talking about a time period when they were fooling around in the backseats of cars, trying to get liquor with fake IDs and smoking cigarettes because they thought it made them look “cool”.  And that’s not even counting the drugs; whereas 54% of American high school seniors in 1979 reported having used them, only 38% do now; if anything, the now-adults who were teenagers back then should have fewer illusions about teen innocence.  But no; instead they prefer to construct this elaborate pretense of teenage innocence, then persecute real teenagers for daring to shatter it.

Note that in this Huffington Post article from August 18th, the dysphemism “ring”, which usually means “suppressed business”, is instead bizarrely employed to mean “group of friends”:

Nearly two dozen Vermont teenagers were involved in a sexting ring in which two of them used school-issued computers to access indecent photos and videos of female classmates, police said Thursday.  Five boys admitted viewing 30 to 40 images and three videos, many of which were sent by cellphone…[and] two of the boys used school-issued laptop computers to access and distribute the images…The girls took photos of themselves and sent them to the boys, who forwarded them to the shared email account, Milton Police Detective Cpl. Paul Locke said…17 girls aged 14 to 17 were in the photos…”Technically a majority is considered child pornography because it is indecent material of a juvenile,” he said.

Former Milton School Superintendent Martin Waldron has said that school officials became aware of the case on Feb. 17, when a student who felt victimized came forward with “concerns about distribution of inappropriate pictures.”  School officials then heard from more students and turned the case over to police…All of the teens had taken responsibility for what they had done…[and] will not face criminal charges but must attend mandatory sessions with a community justice board…

Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said he thought the punishment should be educational not punitive.  “I think it’s incumbent on us to educate them about frankly the consequences [sic] of their actions,” he said.  “When you send these images out, you lose control of them and there’s going consequences [sic]… and we really need to educate young people about frankly [sic] some of the dangers of technology”…Vermont passed a law in 2009 that permits prosecutors to send teenage cell phone “sexting” cases to juvenile courts to eliminate the stigma of child pornography convictions.

While I’m glad to see Vermont has recognized that convicting teenagers for “child pornography” is both insane and evil, these people are still guilty of treating normal teenage sexual experimentation as a “crime”.  The grammatically-challenged prosecutor also seems impaired in the logic department; from what I can see, the only “consequences” of their actions (aside from the snitch’s changing her mind after choosing to participate) resulted from busybody adults criminalizing natural adolescent behavior.

I’ll leave you with this great cartoon from Kevin Moore’s In Contempt; he also calls attention to three older but still good articles:  Judith Levine’s “What’s the Matter With Teen Sexting?” on The American Prospect, Dahlia Lithwick’s “Textual Misconduct” on Slate, and Tracy Clark-Flory’s “The New Pornographers” on Salon.

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There’s a sucker born every minute.  –  P.T. Barnum

I understand the desire to believe in fantasies; I really do.  I’m 44 years old and I still occasionally daydream about finding a djinni in a bottle; I enjoy science fiction and fantasy stories and movies and even comic books, for goodness’ sake.  But if someone offered to sell me a djinni, a future-predicting device or a power ring, I’d make damned sure it worked (under test conditions of my own choosing) before I even considered talking about the possibility of negotiating the transfer of one red cent.  Most people, alas, are far less skeptical, and some are so hopelessly credulous that con games, work-from-home offers, pyramid schemes, emails from African bankers and many other scams find enough pigeons to make them worthwhile.  Because prostitution is illegal in this country and on the fringes of legality in many others, it has its share of scams; extortionists and practitioners of cash and dash (described in my column of one year ago today) are con artists posing as prostitutes, and whores themselves are often the targets of advertising scams (such as the one discussed in my column of last October 3rd) or attempts to set them up for robbery, rape or abduction.  For example, a particularly vile con artist in Florida has been preying on escorts for at least a year now with emails like this one:

Hello, my name is Paul Geary.  I’m a partner in A G P (Azoff Geary Paul) we are a management firm that represents various musical artists.  One of the bands we rep is Godsmack.  The drummer of that band is Shanon Larkin.  Shannon has a break coming up from the current tour that the band is on.  He will have about two weeks off and is going to S. Florida, to deal w/ a house and a few cars that he recently purchased there.  He has been extremely busy and going very hard for the last few months and is looking to take some time to decompress.  He actually had wanted me to try and contact you when he was in Houston recently, however there just wasn’t time for that to happen while he was there.  Apparently he had saved your info and now has asked me again, to try and contact you to see if you are available, to travel immediately to Florida to spend a few days w/ him there.  I cant at this time really tell you exactly how long you would be w/him there, however I can and will guarantee to you, a minimum of two days, w/a very strong possibility of it extending for a longer period of time.  That of course will depend on how well the two of you get along.  I have to be honest w/ you, and tell you that I do think its a little ridiculous for him to want to fly anyone, (nothing specifically aimed at you personally) across the country for something such as this.  As you can imagine there are a bounty of beautiful women in S Florida that I could, (and much more easily for everyone i might add) have make his acquaintance.  However  he has made it clear that he in fact doesn’t wish to do it this way.  He wants to see you, so, since that is his wish, that is what I’ll attempt to do.  That is the reason for this very long E mail.  I simply wanted to try and give you  as much Info on me and my firm so you can do your due diligence and check that this is a real and legitimate offer.  So you know we do have a full in house travel dept. that will take care of all your travel arrangements by booking you ROUND TRIP flight, your hotel, as well as your rental car.  This will all be booked pre -paid and you will have E Mail confirmations sent to you to.  You will then be able check in on line, as well as print out all your itineraries before leaving to go see him.  If you are interested and available to see Shannon  A.S,A,P, please give me a call @  561-866-9420 or simply E mail me at this Addy. and let me know.      Thanks  Paul

The scam attempts to prey on both the girl’s greed and any tendency toward celebrity worship she may have; girls who accept the offer (and I’ve heard of a few) are robbed of money and credit cards and stranded in Florida.  Due to criminalization, whores in the United States who fall for such tricks have no recourse, but in Spain prostitution is legal so the victims of this one (as reported in the Telegraph on August 12th) were able to go to the police:

The gang of six based in Fuengirola on Spain’s Costa del Sol made at least €50,000…after persuading some 180 men to pay a joining fee to register as gigolos.  The elaborate scam lured men in with advertisements in the national media promising vast returns for wining and dining lonely women.  Men…were then asked to pay joining fees of between €200 and €1,000… to be put on the books of “reputable agencies”.  But the online agencies were hoaxes and the clients never materialised.  Police said the masterminds behind the scam were a husband and wife and her older brother.  Three others were arrested for opening bank accounts used to transfer money from the victims for five per cent of the profits.  None of those arrested nor those that fell for the scam have been named.  Police said they uncovered the network after receiving complaints from different men who said they had never received any work as a result of signing up with the agencies.

As regular readers know there simply aren’t enough women willing to pay for sex with men to keep such an agency in business, but the myth persists (encouraged by Hollywood fantasies like Hung and Gigolos) and when I had my agency I regularly received calls from men who honestly believed there was a market for male prostitutes catering solely to women.  And as with every unrealistic fantasy, it was only a matter of time before some sleazy person found a way to take advantage of it.

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One year ago today I published my second “fictional interlude”, which concerned an inanimate object endowed with a human personality.  Today I’d like to revisit that theme, but via the medium of science fiction rather than fantasy and set in the future rather than the past.  I hope you like it.

“Are you sure it’s safe?”

“Sure I’m sure.  Do you think I want to get sued?”

“I won’t be able to sue you if my brain gets burned out.”

“It’s just a standard psychograph like they’ve been using for over forty years,” Kevin said with more than a hint of annoyance.  “You’ve used one yourself for dubbing sentios.”

“Yeah, but you’ve obviously modified this quite a bit, and a standard psychograph can’t do what you’ve told me this is supposed to do.”

He sighed, and made an effort to be patient with her.  “You’re right, but all I’ve done is to increase the number and type of receptors and to develop new and dramatically-improved interpretation software.  The principle is still the same; it’s completely passive, and just records the electromagnetic impulses from your brain.  It’s a receiver only, not a transmitter.”

“OK, OK.  I get it.  But you can’t blame me for being a little scared.”

“I don’t blame you, Rachel, but you have to believe I wouldn’t have signed that contract with you if I wasn’t 100% sure this would work.  It’s a pretty sweet deal for you, after all; half the profit for just a few hours’ work.”

She leveled a mildly disapproving glance at him.  “Really, now.  It’s my name, my face and my reputation that’ll sell this thing, if it sells.  And it took me years to earn those.”

“I’m not denying that.  Let me rephrase it; you’ve already put in the work, and now you just have to invest a few more hours to cash in.”

If it works.”

“Why shouldn’t it?  The principle of recording emotions and feelings isn’t new; all I’ve done is to increase the fidelity and multiply the number of channels so as to take a complete personality pattern.  Using that, I can program the simulacrum to act exactly like you, and think of how much guys will pay for their very own Rachel Summers sex doll.”

“But that’s just it, Kevin; I don’t think she will act exactly like me.  Despite the fact that changes in brain chemistry and physiology can strongly affect personality, we’ve never been able to locate a ‘personality center’ in the brain.  Lots of psychologists call personality an ‘emergent system’, something which arises from the neurochemistry of the brain and is contained within it, yet can’t be mapped in one-to-one correspondence with it.”

“Descartes’ ‘ghost in the machine’, you mean.”

“Descartes didn’t call it that, a 20th–century philosopher did.  Laugh if you want to, but I’m not the only one who believes that the reason true artificial intelligence has never been achieved is that the human brain is qualitatively different from a computer and engineers keep pursuing a quantitative approach.”

Though he disagreed with her conclusions, Kevin had to admit Rachel had a first-class mind in that gorgeous head of hers; it was obvious from her sentios, which is why he had approached her with this offer.  Lifelike sex robots had been popular for decades, but they had no spirit; they just did as they were told.  And while that was infinitely superior to the inert manikins of a century ago, he knew from talk on forums that the first company to produce a doll which could give her owner what the “hobbyists” of his great-grandfather’s day used to call a “GFE”, would become rich beyond the dreams of avarice.  Programmers had tried to develop an adequate personality simulation for the last decade, but it was no use; nobody had yet developed a robot which could convincingly mimic the personality of an affectionate human woman.  So Kevin had hit upon the idea of copying a personality rather than inventing one from scratch, and whose could be better than that of a golden-hearted call girl turned actress, beloved of tens of millions as much for her warmth and humanity as for her looks and sexual skills?

It would work; it had to.  “I don’t believe in the soul.”

She shrugged.  “It’s your money.”  Pouring herself into the padded couch, she lifted the helmet to her head and made herself comfortable as Kevin adjusted dozens of settings on the control panel, then signaled he was ready to begin.

Five and a half long, draining hours later, Rachel arose, stretched and announced that she was desperately in need of a steak, a baked potato and a large chocolate milkshake.  “How soon will you know if we need to do a retake?”

“About three weeks, I think,” he said.  “But I’ll let you know.”

She kissed him on the cheek and said, “I hope I’m wrong.”  But her eyes said, “I don’t think I am.”

Three weeks turned into four, then five; Kevin wanted to make absolutely sure he had everything right.  Finally, all the programming was done; it took a few hours to load into the simulacrum, and then he had to wait for agonizing minutes as her systems initialized.  Finally, her eyes snapped open, and she abruptly sat up on the table; though she was physically indistinguishable from Rachel, there was something subtly different about her he couldn’t quite put his finger on.  The doll had been programmed with every aspect of her personality; there shouldn’t be anything missing, no behavioral difference between this robot and the real Rachel.  And yet she somehow seemed…cold.  Soulless.  He pushed the unwelcome and unscientific thought from his mind and decided to test her responses; if there was a problem he’d discover it soon enough.  Better start with the basics, he thought, so he looked directly into the seemingly-human face and said “I’d like a kiss.”

Her mouth twisted into a half smile as she looked at him with queenly hauteur and asked dispassionately, “What’s in it for me?”

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Your argument defends an ideology; mine defends the truth.  –  Mason Cooley

Furry Girl has been in the news lately; her project to fund the first-ever sex worker rights billboard in the United States has succeeded, and it will be going up in Los Angeles in the next two weeks.  That has received a small amount of attention in local mainstream media, but as usual something negative has received a lot more, and more widespread, attention.  It started when “feminist” porn starlet Madison Young gave birth a few weeks ago, and decided to create an exhibition entitled “Becoming MILF” around the event (for those unfamiliar with the acronym, it means “Mother I’d Like to Fuck”).  As Tracy Clark-Flory’s August 16th Salon article puts it:

…The idea was that she would explore how she now embodies a contradiction, the dichotomy to end all dichotomies — that of the Madonna and the whore.  At the show’s opening, she served up self-made breast milkshakes and displayed a baby quilt made of burp cloths and “porn star panties.”  Surely it goes without saying that this sort of art doesn’t appeal to everyone, or most, but it’s brought about criticism from the unlikeliest of sources:  a fellow pornographer.

Furry Girl strongly criticized Young’s behavior on Twitter, calling her a “revolting person” and pointing out that her display would appeal to “baby fetishists” and “pedos”.  But most importantly she wrote, “It’s funny to see how many feminist kinksters don’t think consent matters when it comes to creating erotic art w/ a baby.”  Apparently Young and her supporters (whom Furry Girl calls “the sexy mommy mob”) angrily “tweeted” back and, well, the fur started to fly.  Bloggers blogged, Twitterers tweeted and pundits issued forth punditry; Flory wrote her article and Jezebel commented on it…and as usual everyone missed the point.

Furry Girl and I are usually on the same page.  That’s not to say we agree about everything; she’s a vegan and I’m an omnivore, some of the things she finds sexy are definite turn-offs for me, and while she revels in her “furriness” I obsessively pluck or epilate every single hair that dares to appear anyplace other than my scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes or mons veneris.  But when it comes to issues of sex work, liberty, feminism and common sense, we rarely disagree:  One especially important point in which we both believe is that sex work activists need to stop trying to look weird and wild and kinky and instead reach out to the mainstream Americans who support criminalization precisely because they believe we’re weird and wild and kinky.  IMHO we need to stress the ways in which whores are like other women, not the ways in which we’re different; as FG puts it, “I want sex work issues to stop being marketed as though they are of interest only to kinky hipsters, leftists, and sex radicals.”  So when a friend called my attention to this Tuesday night, I decided to see what Furry Girl herself had to say about it.  I didn’t have long to wait, as she commented on the affair Wednesday morning:

I am utterly baffled that I have to explain these things, but the sexy mommy mob is still hysterical after my comments on Twitter last week that feminist darling Madison Young is creepy-as-fuck for how she uses her baby as a non-consenting prop for her sexual politics and porn marketing…since people are asking me for a “statement,” and the sexy mommy mob is intent on growing this “story” into some kind of national outrage, I might as well clearly explain my position in one place…

The big take-home point that some people are missing:  It’s all about context.  I am against breast feeding in places where people go to masturbate…It’s hard to plead “there is absolutely nothing sexual about these photos/videos” when they are posted in sexualized spaces and/or crafted to look sexy…if she would never want to encourage people to jerk off to photos of her baby, she should stop posting them in a place where she typically posts porn…This issue is also about consent.  The baby is not consenting to being used as a marketing gimmick for her mother’s porn persona…I am against people using their children as props to serve an agenda…

I never said that no woman should be allowed to breast feed.  I am not against breast feeding in public or private, I am against doing it in sexualized contexts.  I would feel the same way if someone whipped out a baby at a swinger’s club, so it’s not just about the internet or porn.  I never said that sex workers…should not be allowed to have children, or that mothers can’t be sexy.  I have a number of kinky and sex working friends who are parents, and I know some sexy moms.  They, however, possess good sense and  boundaries and don’t force their offspring to be a part of their exhibitionism and work…I never said that no one should be allowed to photograph their kids or photograph breast feeding.  I didn’t comb through the Flickr pages of strangers until I found a random mother to criticize.  I’m specifically talking about a porn star who is using her baby as an attention-getting prop in sexualized contexts

A bubble-dweller

I hate what stuff like this does to the credibility of sex workers and pornographers as a whole.  People like me try to tell regular folk that porn and sex work is about consenting adults, not weird stuff with kids and/or the non-consenting.  To the sexy mommy mob, Madison is the greatest hero of her generation, but what about the other 99.999999% of America, the majority we need to get on our side in order to make any advancements for sex workers?  If you seal yourself in the safe bubble of San Francisco, surrounded by adoring fans, then of course you’re not going to care how you might be damaging the movement for acceptance of sex workers and porn.  I’m surprised that people like Gail Dines and Melissa Farley haven’t seized upon Madison’s baby fetish as yet another way to attack all of us.  This is exactly the sort of thing they live to hold up as a non-representative example of how we’re all horrible people…Donna Hughes threw a fit a year ago when a small sexuality conference apparently allowed in a high school senior…If letting a consenting 17-year-old hear about sexuality is enough for the antis to launch a campaign that says kink bloggers are basically child molesters, I wonder what they would think of a porn star sexualizing the breast feeding of a baby?  But of course, if the antis get wind of the controversy that Madison and her fans are so desperately trying to publicize, she will not be the one addressing the hard questions.  She has her feminist porn “revolution” to worry about, and the rest of us – especially her baby girl – can go eat cake.

I don’t follow Twitter and therefore didn’t see the original comments, but from what I’ve read they’re a bit stronger than the sort of things I would’ve said.  That’s not at all unusual, however; as I pointed out in my column of June 4th, “I’m the Princess of Paranoia and 99.9% of the human race words its essays with far less caution than I employ in the composition of my grocery list.”  That having been said, Furry Girl’s explanatory essay is very clear and eminently sensible.  And as usual, I find myself in complete agreement with her.

One Year Ago Today

Presents” is a column about the thoughtful extras clients often give in addition to the fee.

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