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Archive for April, 2021

May Eve 2021

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Every fictional universe has some set of stories and story-elements which are considered canonical while others are not.  Generally, most of the stories produced or authorized by the copyright holders are considered canon, while fan stories are not; however, in some circumstances some stories and plot development which were once “official” are later quietly disregarded (usually because they cause too many continuity problems, like the ridiculous “Warp 5 speed limit” introduced in a latter-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and promptly ignored by every other writer).  But it’s not at all unusual for fans of a sci-fi or fantasy series to also have a “head canon”, a set of stories and elements that they consider “official” in their own internal picture of that universe, which is separate from whatever the corporate owners might declare.  Such mental structures allow the fan to include or exclude elements which might affect his willing suspension of disbelief or otherwise alter his appreciation of the imaginary world.  For me, one of those elements is chronology; for example, I have absolutely no tolerance for the loosey-goosey sliding past of comic books, in which superheroes always stay the same age for decades and their origins keep changing to suit a contemporary framework.  So whenever I read or watch a series, it’s important for me to keep a timeline (on a notepad or computer file if it’s too complex to organize in my head) so that I can keep track of the order in which things happen, how long it was from x event to y, and so on.  That’s why I especially appreciate shows like Babylon 5 and novels like The Lord of the Rings, in which the creator maintains a close watch on dates and sequences of events, and characters age and change as they do in the real world; when the person or persons in charge don’t pay attention or even blatantly disregard such recordkeeping, this is what my head does.  So I think we can all agree that it would just be better if everyone plotted their stories with a calendar handy, so as to save Maggie’s brain all that extra work.

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They will still be criminalizing…our landlords, friends, drivers, and customers.  –  Maya Morena

R.I.P. Tempest Storm

Tempest Storm, the legendary burlesque star who blazed a trail for strip-tease artists for more than a half-century, has died.  She was 93…Storm had been struggling after surgery on her right hip on April 8…In 1956, she became the highest-paid burlesque performer in history when she signed a 10-year contract at $100,000 a year with the Bryan-Engels burlesque production company.  Soon after signing that deal, Storm married Herb Jeffries, the singer in Duke Ellington’s Orchestra known as Hollywood’s first singing black cowboy.  Seen as scandalous at the time, Storm would say the marriage cost her a potentially lucrative film career…Storm first performed in Las Vegas in 1951…and as late as 1987…She was 59 at the time…

Disaster (#925)

We did warn y’all that this wouldn’t stop with actual sex workers:

…it’s become increasingly clear…that the World Wide Web is…[no longer] a particularly hospitable place for…sex that deviates in any way from social norms.  Polyamorous dating app #Open…was removed from the Google Play Store for allegedly violating Google’s “Sexual Content and Profanity policy”…for including the words “threesomes,” “3some,” “DTF” and “kinky dates”…[because] they “imply sexual gratification.”  After removing the offending terms…the app was eventually reinstated…“without any notice…from Google,” following a nine-day suspension…[Creators Amanda] Wilson and [David] Epstein claim the suspension significantly damaged their business, costing #Open an estimated 2,000 potential new members…as well as causing the app to lose its position as the number one dating app to appear in searches for “polyamory”…

Oh noes, it damaged their business!  Surely that has never happened to the millions of sex workers Wilson & Epstein don’t give a shit about, thanks to these terrible policies they never opposed until they were harmed.

Stalkers in Blue (#989)

Another sexual predator specifically targets traumatized women:

A [typical and representative cop] who [stalked] four vulnerable domestic abuse victims has been dismissed for “appalling” gross misconduct…Colin Noble…[of] West Midlands Police…[was] secretly recorded…[by one woman aking her for] nudes…He a[sked another to show him]…her breasts…other complainants [produced]…a “catalogue of completely inappropriate comments” [he made] between 2014 and 2017…he turned up at [one victim’s] house unannounced up to 30 times, telling her she was “too pretty” for her boyfriend…[and] asking…if she had “ever slept with a black man”…[another] lied about having moved away from the Midlands to stop his calls…

Welcome to the Future (#1092)

In a just world, every politician in Pasco County would be jailed & the cop shop shut down:

The U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into…Pasco [County, Florida] school [bureaucrats’ violation of] federal law by sharing private student information with the…Sheriff’s Office…the school district shared information on student grades, discipline and attendance with [pigs, who then] used the data to compile a secret list of s[tudents] it [targeted for harassment based on claims that they] could “fall into a life of crime”…The school district has…repeated[ly lied, claiming that giving thugs information they could use to ruin young people’s lives is] a…“proper use of student information”…The Sheriff’s Office…[lied] that the program does not label kids as potential criminals, despite what its own manual says…

Castle on a Cloud

Putting stock in what politicians only say is like trying to build a castle on a cloud:

The Manhattan district attorney’s office announced…it would no longer prosecute prostitution and unlicensed massage…Cyrus R. Vance Jr….[claimed] his office had fully shifted its approach to prostitution [but this is a lie, because]…The office will continue to prosecute other [consensual] crimes related to prostitution, including [giving] sex workers [money] and sex [workers working together, keeping incalls, and other mundane practices demonized by prohibitionists as “trafficking”]…Vance’s move [appears to be intended to confuse voters who support his political opponent Eliza Orlins, who is calling for the actual decriminalization of sex work rather than Vance’s de facto Swedish criminalization]…

Guinea Pigs (#1108) 

Lest you think this is strictly a Chinese pathology, follow the subtitle link:

China’s Communist government has launched a new app that encourages citizens to report [others] for expressing “mistaken opinions” on the Internet…The new platform will target anyone who criticizes the dictatorship’s ruling CCP, disputes the official version of the country’s history or engages in “misinformation…and denying Party, national and military history in an attempt to confuse people’s thinking”…China already operates an onerous social credit score system that bans people from using transportation and engaging in other basic functions of society if they commit minor [sins] like jaywalking or buying too much junk food…

The Last Shall Be First (#1128) 

Since their “bathroom bills” kept getting struck down, transphobes are now trying to accomplish their goals by criminalizing doctors:

The mother of a transgender boy made a powerful speech [to] Texas [politicians], urging them not to pass legislation that would criminalize parents who allowed their children to receive [gender] affirming procedures…There are more than 10 [current] bills in Texas that specifically target transgender youth…Two [of them] would classify a medical practitioner helping a [legal minor] to transition as “abuse”…[another] would prevent liability insurance coverage for gender-affirming surgeries and treatments for [minors]…Several other states are considering anti-trans legislation [including]…Missouri

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Diary #565

I had only a few days back at Sunset before heading back out again, but at least it was only an overnight to the east side of the Olympic peninsula, namely the convention of the Libertarian Party of Washington over in Port Orchard.  I was on a panel on sex work decriminalization early Sunday afternoon and it’s only a two-hour drive, so I could’ve just gotten up early Sunday and driven over.  But since I didn’t really know where I was going and wanted time to schmooze (such interactions are useful in building coalitions and making contacts), they covered a hotel room for me Saturday night and I drove over after dinner.  I was glad I did, not only because Sunday morning was less hectic, but also because it gave me a chance to talk to some other awesome sex worker activists.  The audience was really receptive to what we had to say, which is especially important now that things are finally starting to move (albeit with glacial slowness), because we’ll need all the allies we can get.  Alas, I never sleep well when I know I have to get up, so I got home pretty exhausted Sunday night and then wrote this; if it’s a bit short and blah, at least I have a good excuse.

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Back Issue #94

Prohibitionists simply adore pimps. –  “Subtle Pimping

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You’re fixin’ to ride the lightning.  –  “Officer” Joe Gutierrez

If Western culture emphasized composer over performer in popular music as it does with orchestral music, Jim Steinman would be recognized as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century.  In honor of his passing, here’s a video of the one hit he had as a performer; compare and contrast with Meat Loaf performing the same song a little over a decade later.  The links above the video were provided by Lucy Steigerwald, Franklin Harris, Tim Cushing, Jesse Walker, Cop Crisis, Radley Balko, and Nun Ya, in that order.

From the Archives

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[Internet censorship] legislation…is not about protecting people.  –  Mariah Grant

Monsters

Violence against trans people is finally starting to get mainstream attention:

Police and LGBTQ+ groups in Charlotte [North Carolina]…say…an unknown person or…person[s] may be targeting transgender women with deadly violence…two…have been killed in recent days…the body of Jaida Peterson…[was found] in a hotel room…on Easter Sunday…the identity of the second person…[was] not immediately available…[but] both victims were shot to death in hotel rooms and…both were [trans] sex workers…

Welcome To Our World (#938)

Female victims of violence are increasingly treated like criminals:

Lawanna Belgard, of [Kansas was abducted by state-employed thugs and locked in a cage for]…a week…[because] prosecutors [knew] she didn’t want to be in court [and decided to force her]…a [so-called] victims advocate [who actually works for] the county attorney’s office…[made excuses for the violent abduction of an innocent person using]…the Sixth Amendment [as an excuse]…the…prosecutor [lied even more outrageously, referring to the violent abduction and caging of a traumatized woman as]…”safety measures to protect the witness”…According to…[actual victim advocates rather than state functionaries pretending to that title], stories like that of Belgard have a chilling effect on the abused — it makes it less likely that someone will report abuse and start a legal proceeding…

To Molest and Rape (#1048)

A murderer is also a rapist.  Gee, what a surprise:

…a [typical and representative cop murdered] three people…in…Austin [Texas last] Sunday…[murderer] Stephen Nicholas Broderick…is “armed and dangerous”…A $1,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to his arrest…Broderick…was initially [rewarded with a paid vacation last June for raping] a child…he…resigned from the sheriff’s office [a few days later and]…it is not known if th[e rape] is connected to [the murders other than being committed by the same psychopath]…

Social Distancing (#1063)

Pro-Swedish criminalization politicians will lose their shit over this:

A sex worker denied access to a government business loan because of her occupation is calling for a change in [anti-discrimination] law…Charlotte Edwards applied via Santander for the Bounce Back loan after being unable to work due to the pandemic…The escort’s request was initially declined due to the “nature” of her job but later approved after intervention from a group of MPs…Ms Edwards…said she had been an escort for more than five years, but Covid had prevented her working due to…travel restrictions…She was granted a mortgage payment holiday by her provider, but…had to “survive on Universal Credit” due to her working situation…she said…”I’m trying to have the [Equality Act of 2010] amended…[to include discrimination on the grounds of] occupation”…

The Course of a Disease (#1074)

Sociopaths claim this is what sex workers want:

…the coordinator of the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland (SWAI)…Kate McGrew said the pandemic, coupled with the impact of the S[wedish criminalization imposed on them in] 2017, is making life very difficult for sex workers here.  Gardaí regularly [steal] condoms, lube and phones at premises from which they suspect sex work is taking place…This “disruption” model of policing has become “par for the course” in the last four years, she added…Very few buyers of sex have been prosecuted since then, but a number of women have been arrested and deported for [so-called] brothel-keeping offences…

Social Distancing (#1118)

So many “enlightened” countries still pretend that disease is caused by “sin”:

While casinos and other businesses reopened after the…coronavirus shutdown…strip clubs have struggled under [puritanical] state rules that prohibit its core attraction — nude or topless women and lap dances.  Starting May 1, the state ban will be lifted…a Clark County “mitigation plan” would allow for topless dancers, [bu]t would still prohibit lap dances, as entertainers would have to maintain a 6-foot distance from patrons…Some strip clubs are open, operating mainly as bars and restaurants.  Dancers can work onstage but must wear bikinis or pasties [because everyone knows that nipples spray viruses over everything in the area]…

You Were Warned (#1125)

Hey lede writer, the word you’re looking for is “abolish”:

Supporters of the SAFE TECH Act want to further [undermine] Section 230, making companies responsible for policing user speech on online platforms…But sex workers and free speech advocates warn that eliminating these liability protections means greater censorship of online platforms as companies try to reduce the risk of landing in legal trouble as a result of third-party user content…sex worker[s]…could easily be sued for…content on websites, have to attend court, and pay for an attorney…digital rights advocates…[also] warn of broader free speech consequences if the bill were to pass…

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The other day I saw a tweet in which someone expressed incredulity that others might not like something he likes.  Now, beyond this statement I’m not going to comment on the obvious silliness of the idea that everyone should like the same things, because I think normal people who aren’t cases of arrested development learn that sometime around the age of four or five.  Nor am I going to mention what specific thing he was tweeting about, because it really isn’t important to the point I want to make.  And that point is, there are lots of reasons a person might desire something in the abstract, yet never partake of it in reality.  No substance, object, activity, or other thing a person might like exists as a Platonic ideal; regardless of what pleasure or benefit someone might derive from a thing, there are always costs, drawbacks, side effects, complications or other negatives which tend to counteract the benefits.  And so every responsible adult decision to indulge in a pleasure requires consideration of the give and take:  Can I afford this?  Can I handle the negative health effects?  Do I have time today?  Will it somehow harm those I care about?  Obviously, immature, irresponsible, or foolish people often skip this consideration, with predictable consequences; so do those suffering addiction or mental health issues around the desired thing.  And puritans (or, again, people suffering from certain psychological or emotional disorders) often do exactly the opposite by denying themselves a pleasure whose negative effects are trifling, imaginary, or both.  But well-balanced individuals may very well refuse themselves things they would very much like to enjoy because in their judgment, the negative factors outweigh the positive.  I can’t help looking at the wide variety of delicious candies on display every time I go shopping, but I never buy them because I want to maintain my figure; I don’t drink nearly as much liquor as I’d like for exactly the same reason.  At this exact moment I’d prefer to be stoned, but I’m delaying that gratification so as to finish this essay; there are other drugs I haven’t partaken of for a while because I prefer to enjoy them with companions who have been isolating for the past year due to their own health concerns.  Pretty girls are nice to look at, but experience has taught me that doing more than looking is always more trouble than it’s worth, and as I wrote in “Out of the Dark“,

…there are some things I’ve found very hot my entire life yet have never acted on, and probably never will.  And there are other things I’ve tried, enjoyed and still find hot as hell, but will probably never act on again because they either come with too much baggage or it’s much too difficult to find the right person or persons to do them with.

And this, I think, is the main reason the tweet I spoke of at the beginning annoyed me so much:  if someone doesn’t share your likes it may simply be a matter of different strokes, or it may be that they do share them, but are less fortunate than you in being able to afford their economic, social, practical, or emotional costs.

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I find it more than a little bit amusing that so many people get so bent out of shape by the Babylon Bee.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a satirical news site like The Onion, but with a conservative Christian bent, not-unlike the way Reductress has a feminist bent.  A lot of the Bee‘s articles have too pronounced a Christian bias to be funny IMHO, and some of them are flat-out offensive (especially the ones springing from anti-abortion or pro-cop propaganda), but a lot of the time they’re quite funny; furthermore, similar caveats apply to The Onion, Clickhole, Reductress, National Lampoon, and even MAD.  Satire isn’t easy, which is why there aren’t half a dozen “Weird Al” Yankovics out there; one has to be able to gauge which topics deserve to be lampooned and then do so in a manner that is both smart and funny while not alienating one’s core readership.  Sometimes a parody works and sometimes it doesn’t, and if there were a sure-fire formula for predicting a hit every creator in every creative genre would be a smashing success.  But while there are a lot of legitimate criticisms of satirical news sites (including some I’ve made myself) in general, and no site can possibly amuse all of the people all of the time, there seems to be a very peculiar animus against the Babylon Bee in particular despite the fact that it’s not unfunny, offensive or just plain dumb any more often than any of the others.  Once-reliable fact-checking site Snopes has repeatedly “fact checked” obviously-absurd Bee stories, despite admitting that they are clearly labeled as satire, justifying the practice with inane statements like “Some readers didn’t see much humor in the post” (a claim that could be made about every joke in every satirical poem, book, magazine, TV show, or website ever created since at least the time of Petronius).  And The New York Times actually “reported the site publishes false information ‘under the guise of satire’ when the site openly admits that it’s satire.”  I mean, here’s the top thing on their “about” page:
There’s nothing wrong with just saying a humorous website, show, magazine, or whatever doesn’t appeal to you; I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live since the original cast left, and there were some Kids in the Hall sketches that I found revolting.  And sooner or later the Bee will probably print some dumb anti-whore thing that’ll piss me off enough that I’ll be done with them, too.  But even then I won’t repeatedly expend effort criticizing them as though they were Michael Moore presenting propaganda as fact, and doing so makes the Times, Snopes, et all look like clueless puritans with a stick so far up their arses it’s coming out from between their teeth.  Which, come to think of it, they basically are.

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[Prohibitionists] are to blame for the fear sex workers live with, and the deaths that follow.  –  Mary Moody

The Course of a Disease (#342)

Business As Usual

Wow, a headline writer without a boot permanently lodged in his mouth:

…[a typical and representative New Haven] cop [named] Gary Gamarra [claimed that his rapes of] two different…sex workers [were OK because they wanted it]…Gamarra resigned from the force after [lying about] the [rapes, but]…now he’s seeking to have the resignation rescinded [so he can] get…back [to raping again].  The police chief, meanwhile, is seeking to have the state bar Gamarra from ever serving as a police officer in Connecticut again.  And the state’s attorney’s office has decided…[not] to pursue a criminal case against Gamarra [because whores.  Other “officials” thought it was much more important to note that he was not wearing his magic clown costume at the time of the rapes]…

Disaster (#974)

It’s just going to keep getting worse:

…the gaming chat platform Discord [has] quietly updated its guidelines to restrict adult content, issuing a ban on users accessing NSFW servers…on iOS devices…entire servers, as opposed to individual channels, are…designated NSFW if the community “is organized around NSFW content or whose content is predominantly 18+”…It will still be possible for Discord users to access NSFW servers on its desktop version, and on Android…[because] the…policy shift was intended “to comply with Apple’s policies”…

See also “The Next Target” below.

To Molest and Rape (#1066)

Just protecting and serving:

…the Boston Police Department in 1995 filed a criminal complaint against [rapist cop Patrick Rose]…for sexual assault on a 12-year-old [boy], and…an internal investigation…concluded that he [was] likely [guilty, but he was allowed to]…ke[ep] his badge…for another 21 years, and rose to power in the [pig] union…his [victim grew up and lasy year discovered that] Rose [had been raping his daughter since she was 7]…The department’s cover-up]…left Rose free to [rape] again and again, from one generation to the next…

Quiet Genocide (#1118)

China is ramping up its propaganda campaign against those who tell the truth about the ongoing Uighur genocide:

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denounced more than a dozen [people who escaped]…Xinjiang…as liars, criminals, terrorists, and persons of “bad morality”…in a bid to undermine reports of abuses that have led…Western nations to [recognize that China is conducting] …a campaign of genocide.  [The propaganda also claims that of about 12,000 known victims listed in several]…database[s]…nearly 1,350 were “fabricated”…nearly 7,000 are “living a normal life,” while some 3,250 “have been convicted and sentenced for crimes of violent terrorism and criminal offenses”…[and] another 500 had either died of diseases or are living in foreign countries…

The Next Target (#1122)

The prohibitionist crusade against all adult material online continues:

Mastercard Inc. is “[tightening] the requirements it sets for banks that process payments for sellers of adult content”…the company will demand “clear, unambiguous and documented consent…[and] document[ation of] the age and [government-approved] identity of anyone depicted in pictures and videos as well as those uploading the content…the banks…will need to certify that the…sites have a review process prior to any content being published, as well as a system for complaints that addresses illegal or non-consensual activity within seven business days…[including] an appeals process that allows for anyone depicted in adult videos or photos to request that the content be removed”…

Predictable Consequences (#1126)

I’ve been pointing out the inherent violence of prohibitionism for years:

…While Exodus Cry has largely tried to get Pornhub shut down using political and social media pressure, its rhetoric is used by people who want to take matters into their own hands.  Sex workers and organizations targeted by those people believe that the rhetoric is going to lead to real world violence, and say that several high-profile mass killings can be traced back to anti-sex worker rhetoric more broadly…these groups have used extremist language and tapped into QAnon sentiment toward child trafficking, so it…is…not the least bit surprising, to see extremists using Nazi paraphernalia, death threats and photos of weapons alongside Exodus Cry’s Traffickinghub logo

It seems as though Vice is now trying to distance itself from this evil hysteria, which it has always tacitly supported via its credulous attitude toward “sex trafficking” propaganda.

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