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The viewpoints…individuals and businesses hold are real, even if they differ from the views of…government officials.  –  Judge Aleta A. Trauger

Surplus Women

The BBC feeds stigma just as much as the Russian media this story criticizes:

On the day she was murdered, 20 July 2020, Olga had a profile on an online escort site where she went by the name Margo.  A 53-year-old former convict, Oleg Tochilkin – who had been released on parole after serving part of a 20-year prison sentence for crimes including murder…b[eat] and strangled Olga…then [dump]ed her naked body…at the entrance to [his apartment] building…One headline read, “Do you feel sorry for this kind of victim of violence?”  Another was, “The bloody details of how a prostitute from Bryansk was killed”.  And there was the one that called Olga a “whore” and referred to her killer as “grandpa”…

Instant Criminal

This guy is lucky his evil wife wasn’t smarter:

…on April 18…Angel Moore [told cops in]…Wynnewood [Oklahoma that]…she’d [somehow] seen a man using his phone to download child [porn.  She claimed]…the man’s wife, Lacey Hucks, managed to get the phone away from her husband and gave it to Moore so she could alert police.  The man was swiftly arrested, and…over 800 child sex abuse images [were found] on that phone…[but] deputies noticed that the phone that the husband had on him at the time of his arrest didn’t have any content similar to what was on the phone Moore had given them.  They only kept the husband in jail overnight, and got a warrant for Hucks’ phone—which showed that she and Moore had been discussing plans to make the police report before April 18…Moore quickly folded under questioning…an[d]…told a deputy that Hucks had…coached her…to deliver the false report against her husband…in hopes of winning a child custody battle…Hucks and Moore…were arrested on charges of conspiracy and knowingly reporting a false crime.  Hucks faces an additional charge of aggravated possession of child sex abuse material; if convicted on that charge, she faces up to life in prison…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (#770)

I’m not sure who Bindel thinks she’s convincing with this tedious claptrap, but I’ve got to hand it to Liz Brown for being far more patient with her than I could possibly manage.

I Spy (#1015)

Are there really sane adults gullible enough to swallow this?

The NSA — which has undermined encryption standards in the past — says it won’t undermine the next strain of encryption, one being built to withstand the inevitable arrival of quantum computing…“There are no backdoors,” said Rob Joyce, the NSA’s director of cybersecurity…Pardon my cynicism, but that’s exactly the sort of thing someone planning to backdoor encryption would say…While it’s true the NSA has spent less time agitating (at least publicly) for encryption backdoors than, say, the FBI, its troubling past strongly suggests it should not be taken at its word this time around…Quantum computing has the capacity to be the pipe wrench that makes security efforts mostly irrelevant.  The sooner a new standard can be put in place, the better.  If the NSA can help achieve this more quickly, it should.  But it should never be assumed the NSA’s intentions are pure…

The Last Shall Be First (#1140)

One small victory against a rising tide of bigotry:

A federal judge struck down a Tennessee law…that would have [forced] businesses in the state to post warning notices on their public restrooms if they have policies allowing transgender patrons to use the facilities that match their gender identities…Judge Aleta A. Trauger…wrote…that the law violates the First Amendment of the Constitution because it compels speech that is controversial and with which the plaintiffs disagree.  “It would do a disservice to the First Amendment to judge the Act for anything other than what it is: a brazen attempt to single out trans-inclusive establishments and force them to parrot a message that they reasonably believe would sow fear and misunderstanding about the very transgender Tennesseans whom those establishments are trying to provide with some semblance of a safe and welcoming environment,” Trauger wrote…

Out of Control (#1173)

The next level beyond spooge-based sexual assault:

An Arby’s manager…urinated in the milkshake mix…for his own “sexual gratification” on at least two occasions…Stephen Sharp, who was being investigated for child pornography, admitted to police that he enjoyed relieving himself in the restaurant’s milkshake mix while working as a night manager at a Vancouver, Washington, location…[cops found] dozens of [child porn] photos and videos…as well as the urine video on his digital devices…Investigators are looking for any unlucky customers who bought and drank the urine-contaminated shakes…

To Molest and Rape (#1230)

So many rapist cops, so many underage victims:

A Dallas [cop who was] arrested last summer [for] sexual assault of a child is now facing a second charge after more victims came forward…Tyrone William Jr….[h]as [been on paid vacation since…June [of last year]…

Diary #621

When I arrived at my Seattle apartment on Sunday, I found a package waiting for me from Amazon, courtesy of regular reader & gift-sender Robin Aguilar.  It contained Joe Satriani’s latest disc, plus the DVD of the space vampire movie Lifeforce (1985) and this set of a 1977 TV show most of y’all have probably never heard of.  Those who weren’t born yet then may find it hard to believe, but before the debut of Star Wars that same year, science fiction had been very out of fashion since Star Trek went off the air in 1969.  And in those pre-home video days, that meant often the only science fiction shows available for viewing were Trek reruns and old movies in syndication packages broadast mostly on Saturday afternoons and late at night.  There were certainly a few adventure shows featuring sci-fi elements, such as The Six Million Dollar Man, but new straight-out sci-fi series were rare and generally short-lived.  This one lasted only ten episodes, but I liked it very much and had a bit of a crush on Katie Saylor, a leggy blonde who played the Atlantean woman Liana.  Given that I haven’t seen this show in 45 years, I have no idea how I’ll appreciate it through adult eyes, but thanks to Robin I’m going to have a chance to find out!

My favorite musician of all time, Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou (best known by his stage name, Vangelis), died last Tuesday in Paris at the age of 79.  And because he was the creator of a large fraction of the soundtrack of my life, I find myself very affected by his passing, more so than by any of the other relatively-recent deaths of musicians whose work I admired.  I wrote a Twitter thread featuring many videos, with a few facts and a bit of criticism, but here I’d rather share more personal thoughts about my relationship with his music.

Like many Americans, I was first introduced to his work by Carl Sagan, who used the third movement of Vangelis’ Heaven and Hell (1975) as the theme to his amazing and groundbreaking TV series, Cosmos.  And while I found the music lovely and moving, it was the music used in this sequence, demonstrating the evolutionary history of humans, that really took hold of my brain:

In those pre-internet days, there wasn’t any simple way to find the name of a piece of music used in a show if it wasn’t listed in the credits, and it wasn’t.  Fortunately, someone thought of writing in to TV Focus, the weekly TV magazine of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, to ask about the main theme, and somebody over there was able to name Vangelis as its composer.  Armed with that knowldge, I begged my cousin Jeff to take me to New Orleans’ best music store, Leisure Landing, where I found the Cosmos soundtrack and a number of other Vangelis albums.  Fortunately, part of the piece I was looking for was on the soundtrack album, along with its name, “Alpha”, and the name of the album on which it appeared, Albedo 0.39.  And it wasn’t long before I made another trip to Leisure Landing to buy it.  China soon followed, then Heaven and Hell, then Spiral; I played them all frequently, and copied them to cassette tapes for playing in the car (as we used to do in those long-ago and far-off days, dear reader).  They were among my favorite albums for playing while dallying with lovers, and to this day I cannot hear the titular song, which appears on Heaven and Hell, without thinking of lying in the afterglow with my first adult inamorata on lazy Friday afternoons in the early ’80s in my apartment near UNO.

Of course, I was much too young then to really feel in my gut what it meant to remember such things across a gulf of decades; even Vangelis himself was only 32 when it was recorded, and singer Jon Anderson two years younger still.  But in the many intervening years my brain has caught up with my very old soul, and the departure of my lifelong musical friend has left me feeling very old indeed.

Links #620

How did we go from a routine traffic stop to narcotics-sniffing dogs?  –  Pamella Jenkins

The big news this week was the passing of Vangelis, the Greek composer most famous for his soundtrack work, whose albums from the late ’70s and early ’80s in particular formed a large portion of the soundtrack of my life.  I’ve featured many of his compositions over the years, but never the one that first made me a fan, fittingly entitled “Alpha”.  The links above it were provided by Franklin Harris, Cop Crisis (x2), Radley Balko, Popehat, and Nun Ya, in that order.

From the Archives

Here I stand, I can do no other.  –  Rikki de la Vega

A Broker in Pillage

Unlike other government departments, the IRS doesn’t even bother to accuse people of actual crimes before robbing them blind:

…Institute for Justice client Lyndon McLellan saw the…IRS…reach…into his bank account [to steal] his life savings without warning or cause in 2014.  McLellan [owned] a small convenience store…in Fairmont, North Carolina…he…worked long hours and rarely took vacations…Yet federal agents accused him of violating so-called structuring laws because his business frequently made bank deposits in amounts under $10,000…the[y stole] more than $107,000…”It took me 13 years to save that much money,” he says.  “And it took fewer than 13 seconds for the government to take it away”…

All-Purpose Excuse

“Sex trafficking” is a convenient excuse for any tyranny:

The Manitoba government is tabling a bill…[which] would require hotels and people operating on online accommodation platforms, such as Airbnb, to keep a record of guests’ information, including their names and addresses…and…to hand over that information to police…on…demand…without a warrant…[politician Rochelle Squires tried to justify this incredible violation of civil rights by vomiting out the words] “human trafficking”…and “children”…

Feminists and Other Puritans

It’s nice to see someone whose name isn’t Maggie McNeill writing about this:

…the worst form of prudery and repression is that which comes from those who also claim to be feminists…Women’s rights activists have been divided about sex from the beginning.  In the nineteenth century, the “free love” movement, which promoted birth control and sought to replace traditional male-dominated marriage with consensual unions of equal partners, butted heads with the “social purity” movement obsessed with controlling men’s lust as a way of eradicating such “evils” of prostitution and venereal disease…Those leaning towards the equality pole welcomed and worked with men who agreed with their goals, like Frederick Douglass and John Stuart Mill.  Those on the protectionist side, however, viewed men with skepticism, and demanded that they prove their worth by swearing to be chaste and “chivalrous” towards women…Not far off from contemporary pledges to not use porn or “end demand for sex trafficking”!  If the women who worked for social purity back then sounded like religious zealots, it’s because they were…

The Puritan Recrudescence

Politicians are increasingly convinced that they’re allowed to redefine legal concepts as they wish:

A strange new bill introduced by Oklahoma [politician] Rob Standridge would make it illegal to knowingly give “obscene material” to a “vulnerable person,” explicitly including unhoused people…SB 1522 [also includes] an unconstitutional redefinition of…“obscene material” as “any description, exhibition, presentation or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse”…Such supposedly obscene materials would include “book, magazine, newspaper, pamphlet, poster, print, picture, figure, image, description, motion picture film, record, recording tape, CD-ROM disk, magnetic disk memory [sic], magnetic tape memory, videotape, computer software, video game,” and other unspecified media to be determined by the authorities.  Despite his seeming concern for the moral hygiene of the unhoused, Standridge recently opposed a new homeless shelter, making statements conflating Oklahoma’s unhoused population with “sex offenders” and calling them “a public safety risk”…

Stalkers in Blue (#987)

Another cop demonstrates what he is:

A Bay Area [cop] has been charged with masturbating in front of a family that called police during a fraught domestic violence call…Matthew Dominguez…“milled around the home…keep[ing] the daughter in view of his Body Worn Camera”…Dominguez [later]…unzipped his pants and began rubbing his crotch…[in full view of the mother and] daughter…Dominguez [kept] follow[ing the daughter]…around…The mother and daughter then went to find…the father…who…[also] “saw…Dominguez…with his erect penis in his left hand”…

Blunt Instrument (#1012)

This would be a much better article if it didn’t pretend that prohibitionism is a solely a phenomenon of the “right wing”:

For the past year, low-income Asian women in Newmarket [Ontario] have been engaged in a fierce battle with [politicians]…working to close down their massage businesses by claiming that the workers are both disreputable criminals and sex trafficking victims…in January…the town council imposed a set of regulations requiring massage businesses to get a new type of licence…[under] threat…[of] fines of $4,000 to $5,000 per day…the town…[is] using a fake anti-trafficking campaign…with zealous support from [the usual suspects]…thanks to centuries of racism and employment segregation in North America, body rubs are associated with crime, sex work, and people of colour…Newmarket town council declared their intention to create new rules that would drive out the businesses that they defined as “appeal[ing] to sexual appetites,” and the “brothels” that town councillors claimed were “hosts for human trafficking.”  Their…plan was to get rid of suspected sex work by tightening the rules so that only businesses whose workers have formal educational certifications from Canada could get the newly [inven]ted Personal Wellness Establishment Licence…[such] certifications can take years…and tuition can cost thousands of dollars…

Repeatedly claiming that prohibition in Canada is “right wing” when Trudeau and his party eagerly promote it is tantamount to pissing on the readers’ legs and telling them it’s raining.

Torture Chamber (#1182)

The government needs to be buried in lawsuits before this will stop:

[Young men] at a South Carolina…[prison are locked in cages] with feces on the floor, mold on the walls, and cockroaches in their food, according to a new lawsuit…the kids — who range in age from 13 to 19 – are [also] subjected to routine violence by [screws and] other [prisoners]…[screws also] use solitary confinement — in cells with no natural light — as a way to “protect” them from violence…some[times for]…months [at a stretch], and there [are] no meaningful educational or mental health services for the[m]…the…[prisoners] are disproportionately Black and from families that live below the federal poverty line…

Once again: it does not help young victims of governmental brutality to infantilize them as “children”.

Bathhouse 66

As you can see, the majority of the purlins are now in place.  Actually, by the time you read this, all this will have been covered with roof panels, but I wanted to show the detail before that happens.  Another thing not visible in this picture: a steel post in the middle of the northeast side, lending extra support to that tall triangular section because ten feet is twice as much unsupported span as we feel is safe.  You’ll be able to see it in future pictures, and it will become part of the northeast wall between the cottages.  Those with sharp eyes and engineering-type minds may have noticed that the purlins in that triangular section are all the same length, and project increasingly far beyond the rafters as they approach the apex; that’s because that whole leaf will be rectangular, leaving only two narrow wedges which will have panels perpendicular to the flat section, so as to dump rainwater onto the flat area (which will later end in a gutter).  If you can’t picture it, don’t worry; you’ll see more next week.  Oh, and if you’re wondering what that clutter is on the ramp, it’s just a temporary blockage to keep Cicero from coming up onto the deck until we install the door at the top.

The bourgeois bootlickers who think it would be a wonderful idea for everyone to be forced to use their “real names” (i.e. their government names) on social media are at it again.  They claim it would make the internet a nicer place, because as everybody knows Facebook is a perfect exemplar of how every social media site should look and operate.  This tweet was in response to a blue-checked cretin named David Klion opining that every Twitter user with over 10,000 followers should be forcibly outed, based on that perennial mating-cry of the smug, sheltered, and stupid, “If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear”.  He also belched up some sort of inanity about “democracy“, but not long after I quote-tweeted him he deleted his tweet (which is why what you see above is no longer a quote tweet).  Well, let me tell you a little story about what happens when one speaks out publicly, not even under her government name but under a very well-known nom de guerre.  I’ve never told this publicly before, but since I’m semi-retired and the damage is long done, I think it’s time.

In 2015 I made the decision to work and write under the same name.  After a momentary surge in business, I slowly lost clients who were either offended by my being something more than a pleasant, pretty façade, or were afraid they’d be arrested for consorting with a high-profile rabble-rouser.  In 2016, there was even a rumor going around Seattle that I was under direct police surveillance; even some of the clients I didn’t lose switched to paying me electronically so if they were intercepted by cops, there was no cash they could steal as “evidence” of patronizing a prostitute.  Obviously that never happened, but the damage was already done.  I don’t regret being who I am, or saying what had to be said, and I’ve never been any good at maintaining multiple personae anyhow.  So though I probably wouldn’t do anything differently if I had to do it again, it would be a lie to pretend that standing up for what I fervently believe in, under the name by which I’m known to the world, wasn’t a pearl of great price.  And while I’m hardheaded and uppity enough to have made that choice, and philosophical enough to accept the enormous financial costs, many others might not be so willing to speak truth to power if they knew it might damage their ability to make a living.  But sure, go ahead and forcibly dox everyone with over 10,000 followers; I’m sure that’ll be great for “democracy”.

In its attempts to target an ever-growing number of people for detention and deportation, ICE has reached into the private homes and lives of almost every person in America.  –  Nina Wang

Pyrrhic Victory (#1045)

Allowing Clearview to continue arming those who claim the “right” to spy on you, violently assault you, and destroy your life, is nothing like a “big win”:

Under a legal settlement filed in court today, Clearview AI…has agreed to a new set of restrictions that ensure the company is in alignment with the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act…Clearview will be permanently banned from granting paid or free access to its gargantuan face recognition database to private entities [but not to governmental entities, including ICE, CBP, the FBI and local cop shops]…except…in Illinois [and even that restriction is only]…for a [mere] five years…Clearview will maintain an opt-out request form on its website, allowing Illinois residents to [give this unscrupulous business yet another] photo [in exchange for a politician’s promise that]…their faceprints will be blocked from appearing in Clearview’s search results…

Quiet Genocide (#1105)

Here’s another firsthand account of the ongoing genocide of the Uighur people by the Chinese communist regime, told in comic strip form.  Since finally escaping after years of brutalization, Zumrat Dawut has bravely told her story despite attempts by the Chinese government to terrorize her even though she now resides in the US.  Please read her story, edited by Anthony Del Col and illustrated by Fahmida Azim; it is imperative Westerners stop looking away and pretending these atrocities are not happening.

I Spy (#1155)

Nothing infuriates violent, self-important busybodies more than private affairs that are none of their business:

…the European Commission [is] seeking to end encrypted communications…[using the popular excuse] of child sexual abuse imagery…messaging services and web hosts would be required to search for, and report, child abuse material – even in the case of encrypted messaging services…that cannot be scanned in such a way…[politician] Ylva Johansson…[bloviated a lot of self-contradictory nonsense about] “strong safeguards guaranteeing privacy of all”…[while constantly harping on the word] “children”…But the plans [are in reality]…an attack on privacy…Joe Mullin of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)…[pointed out that because what the politicians demand is literally impossible in encrypted messaging…“This would be a massive new surveillance system…[which] would require the infrastructure for detailed analysis of user messages”…It is a similar approach to that proposed…by Apple…Patrick​ ​Breyer, German MEP for the​ ​Pirate​ ​party, called the proposals “fundamental​ ​rights​ ​terrorism​ ​against​ ​trust,​ ​self-determination​ ​and​ ​security​ ​on​ ​the​ internet”…

To Molest and Rape (#1178)

Not even a rapist cop’s own daughters are safe:

A 10-year-old girl called police in March [to report that] her father, a Chicago [cop, had]…sexually abus[ed] her…but when he was [arrested and] charged…it was only for domestic battery, a misdemeanor…

I Spy (#1200)

All federal cop shops and spook houses are part of the police-state blob:

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement…has built a vast digital surveillance system that gives it access to the personal details of almost every person in America, a two-year investigation by Georgetown University law center…conclud[ed] that the…organisation has strayed well beyond its [official] duties as an immigration body to become…a domestic surveillance agency…[with] capabilities that allows its agents to “pull detailed dossiers on nearly anyone, seemingly at any time”…includ[ing]…driver’s license data…utility records…[license plate reader data and] facial recognition [data on roughly 75% of US adults]…and…weaponised through the use of powerful algorithmic tools for searching and analysing data…all…[secretly and] in the absence of warrants…

The Implosion Begins (#1211)

The New York Times uses terms like “far-right conspiracy theory” to describe the moral panic they’ve aggressively promoted for 18 years:

Jason Frank…and his [QAnon] group…have been camping out near Sasabe, Ariz., as a self-appointed border force [in an elaborate fantasy roleplay]…of protecting the thousands of migrant children who have been arriving from the evils of sex trafficking — a favorite QAnon theme…wh[ich developed] over the years [from fantasies about]…pedophilia rings [heavily promoted by cops, fanatics, politicians, and journalists – especially the New York Times – since the early Oughts despite mountains of evidence that organized]…sex-trafficking schemes [of the sort featured in these fantasies are highly] unusual…migrant children [and adults are]…overwhelmingly people who paid to be smuggled…

Policing for Profit (#1230)

I reckon Empyreal felt letting this crime boss save face was a cheap way to get their property back:

Empyreal Logistics…has reached a settlement with the San Bernardino County, California, Sheriff’s Department, which had [robbed] more than $1 million from Empyreal’s armored cars.  The Justice Department, which was holding the money pending federal forfeiture, agreed to return all of it last month…Empyreal a[lso agreed to endorse a statement] the sheriff’s department issued on Friday, [absurdly claiming that the sheriff and his henchmen were]…”acting in good faith when the[y conducted pretextual traffic] stops w[ith the specific intent of robbing a corporation conducting business that was 100% legal under California law]”…

Diary #620

I just did not stop last week!  After working on my bathhouse roof all afternoon Monday, in the evening I drove into Seattle and spent a few hours at my incall before heading to the airport for an overnight visit with Dr. Quest.  I chose the earliest Tuesday flight possible because I’ve discovered that redeyes minimize my chances of airsickness; the planes tend to be much less crowded so it’s easier to get a window seat (I need it to lean against the fuselage with my travel pillow, since airplane seats no longer recline), and I just take my diazepam and sleep as best I can all the way.  How good the sleep is varies dramatically with the type of plane and my position in it; on my flight to Miami in January I slept extremely well, whereas this time wasn’t so good.  But I actually slept better on the second leg, and I felt fine all through our visit (it helps a lot that I really enjoy my visits with Dr. Quest).  The next morning I flew out very early again, but while the first leg was great, the Dallas-to-Seattle run was terrible: I was seated at the last minute in a really bad seat on an overfull plane too late for my drugs to kick in before takeoff, and the pilot was only barely competent (with predictable results on both takeoff and landing and poor sleep in between).  Since I arrived so early I decided to just drive back to Sunset, and I’m glad I did because I was very tired and dropped off before midnight.  The next day I had to take Grace to a doctor appointment, then I dodged annoyingly-intermittent rain Friday and Saturday to almost finish the section of roof between the two cottages (you’ll see pictures over the next few weeks).  Working like that is very tiring because, while I’m not afraid of heights, I give them the respect they deserve; that means my body is under a lot of tension all day, in a way that cries out for a double piña colada with dinner and a long soak in the hot tub afterward.  Having to deal with sporadic drizzle makes it even worse, but I really want to get this done so I can move on to the more relaxed, safer, floor-level part of the project, under a roof that will not only protect me from rain, but eliminate the need for sunscreen in the summer months.  Still, as I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, I can’t say I’m disappointed that it rained too heavily all afternoon for me to even consider doing any work outside.