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Archive for the ‘Words’ Category

Slang terms come and go; sometimes they enter the vernacular on a more permanent basis, but more often the fade away once their season is done, and using them after that time tends to mark someone as not at all “with it”, to use one example from my youth.  But as you might suspect from someone who was invited to a conference of freethinkers, I don’t much care if young people think it’s funny when I use words like “chick”, “square”, and “dig” without a hint of irony (I’ve even been known to occasionally use “groovy”), just like I didn’t much care if adults disliked it when I used them as a kid.  There’s one term from my youth, though, which has pretty thoroughly vanished from popular use despite being as necessary now as it ever was, and perhaps even more so: “The Establishment”.  It was first used in this sense by British journalist Henry Fairlie, who in The Spectator (September 1955) wrote:  “By the Establishment, I do not only mean the centres of official power—though they are certainly part of it—but rather the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised.”  The Establishment, then, includes politicians, cops, bureaucrats, banks, well-connected corporations, institutions, academia, NGOs, the mainstream press…all the interconnected parts of the fascist regimes which act collectively to corral people into easily-managed herds.  Most people nowadays, especially (but not limited to) those in the chattering classes, like to pretend that these institutions either act separately, or can be cleanly divided into “wings”; those who buy into this fantasy think it’s perfectly reasonable to be against “capitalism” without also being against centralized government, or believe that institutions which mouth popular “woke” jargon are truly against the larger institutions which pay their bills, or imagine that a TV news network which airs propaganda for one of the so-called “wings” is different in some substantive way from one which prefers to air propaganda for the other “wing”.  But as I’ve discussed many times, this is nonsense; the machine of authoritarianism is vast, complex, and has many parts which seem separate or even adverserial to shallow thinkers, but in reality all work together (sometimes by design, but more often by necessity) to either reduce all individuals to soulless parts of that machine, or else crush those who refuse to be used thus into pulp.

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I hear that China is unhappy about this conference…Well, I am unhappy there’s a country in 2021 that has concentration camps.  –  Zdeněk Hřib

Above the Law

The rapist gets a respectful title, while his victims are dehumanized as “offenders”:

A [typical and representative Florida] probation officer…has been arrested [for orally raping] two people [he was given coercive power over by the State]…Jeremy Greenidge…also [tried to coerce] a third [victim, who]…report[ed him]…

Dangerous Speech (#1031)

It’s an atrocity that these grossly-unconstitutional robberies weren’t ruled illegal from the beginning:

Staring down the barrel of an expensive retrial triggered by intentional government overreach, defense attorneys in the Lacey/Larkin case are asking federal Judge Diane Humetewa to release a fraction of the millions of dollars in assets illegally s[tolen] by the prosecution in its bid to starve the defendants into submission…The move forced Lacey, Larkin and their four co-defendants to fight a grotesquely expensive legal war on two fronts…the defense…is requesting that Judge Humetewa…un-freeze four specific categories of funds that should never have been seized because they cannot be traced to any alleged illegal activity.  These assets include…more than $10 million in defense attorneys’ trust accounts…

Working From Home (#1103)

No, these “new regulations” are not “intended to fight child sexual abuse and sex trafficking”. They’re intended to do just what they’re doing:

…creators of adult content were shaken when OnlyFans announced…it would ban adult content…it…reverse[d] its stance only days later after an outcry…[but] creators…are bracing for further disruption.  Groups campaigning against sex [workers]…are pushing credit card companies to impose [increasingly-stringent] requirements for processing payments on behalf of sexually explicit sites, aiming to [choke off sex workers’ income]…But, although [amateurs believe prohibitionist claims that] the policies are aimed at protecting those who might be forced into sex work, [in truth the crusade is directed at harming all sex workers]…The rules…seem innocuous [to amateurs]…but [are]…time-consuming and confusing…creating a bureaucracy that threatens their livelihoods [by consuming time and energy that would otherwise be spent in productive work]…In addition, the new…requirements…are delaying payments…

A Woman’s Point of View (#1114)

A petition to put a decriminalization measure on the ballot in Oregon:

An advocacy group called the Sex Worker Rights Act campaign filed a petition…seek[ing] to repeal Oregon’s prostitution laws and amend other relevant statutes.  The petition also seeks to [bar government from denying employees of sex work businesses status] as “employees” under Oregon law; protect people who are or once were sex workers from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace; and prevent a person’s past or present employment as a sex worker from being held against them in child custody disputes…The petitioners must gather 112,020 signatures to get the initiative on the November 2022 ballot.  Should it qualify, the ballot measure could become a sticking point in the Oregon governor’s race….[because noted prohibitionist] Nicholas Kristof has [announced he is running.  Kristof]… support[s]…a dis[credited and dangerous form of oppressing] sex work[ers] known as the “Nordic Model”—which [officially classifies women as moral inferiors of men]…

The Next Target (#1180)

Lux Alptraum and Erika Moen team up to detail (in cartoon form) how the recent brouhaha over OnlyFans is merely “the latest installment of Visa & Mastercard’s war on porn“.  As they explain, it’s really only the latest in a campaign against free expression that has existed since not very long after the internet became popular.

Quiet Genocide (#1191)

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor“:

The Marriott hotel in Prague [refus]ed to host a conference of activists and leaders from China’s Uyghur diaspora this month, c[laim]ing “political neutrality”…[this] reflects China’s growing ability to extend authoritarian control beyond its borders by making clear to corporations that crossing the party’s red lines will be bad for business…Marriott frequently hosts political fundraisers and events…[and Marriott corporate management said]…hosting the conference would not have violated any “political neutrality” policy…[however] Marriott International issued a profuse apology [for sharing facts Beijing dislikes] in 2018…

Rotting Fruit (#1191)

Now this will set the cat among the pigeons:

Exactly a week before the anticipated start of her sex trafficking trial, Ghislaine Maxwell received permission to call [noted]…memory…expert…Elizabeth Loftus..[who] has questioned the reliability of memory and…[demonstrated that] suggestion can mold it…[Despite the recovered-memory and “sex trafficking” industries’ repeated attempts to portray her as some kind of hired gun for rapists and child molesters]…Judge Alison Nathan granted Maxwell permission to call Loftus—subject to certain limitations that are currently under seal.  The threadbare order states only that the government’s motion to block her testimony is denied in part and granted in part…

If you want to understand exactly why Loftus’ testimony is liable to cause drama, you should watch this and read my academic paper “Mind-Witness Testimony“.

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I have a Google alert set up for my name.  Mostly, it returns stuff I’ve written myself, and mentions in articles written by others; on occasion it even returns articles on other women with the same name (or even similar names, because Google is apparently unable to spell).  But every so often it returns something very weird, such as this article which seems to have been (badly) written in some non-Indo-European language and then run through Google translate, with results falling somewhere between “bizarre” and “gobbledygook”.  I’m pretty sure the “Maggie McNeill” it refers to is indeed me, however, because the lady in question is described as “one Seattle-based typically intercourse employee, Maggie McNeill, whom belittled the shutdown of the analysis web pages…” After all, I am indeed based in Seattle and have been known to belittle things on occasion, and “intercourse employee” is probably a ludicrously-incompetent translation of “sex worker”.  I’m not entirely sure of much after that, though it seems this might be an ad for a “hookup” app, marketing itself with “dirty whore” stereotypes; it also seems to have something to say about the TNA website, though I’m not clear on what.  In any case, I invite you to marvel at phrases such as “babes may not be allowed to create evaluations throughout the blokes that witness these people” and “Many happen to be perverts just like we, searching for a intercourse employees to drink them switched off, ride their pogo-stick, or step-on their testicle while phoning them a dirty, soiled kid“, while trying to figure out why the article is illustrated with a picture of what appears to be a Catholic priest.

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Partisans are so hampered by the blinders they’ve voluntarily allowed their “leaders” to strap to their heads that they often come up with truly bizarre interpretations of anything involving members of the enemy tribe.  At the moment, the reigning emperor’s troubled son is one of those:My response to this on Twitter was, “‘Buying a person’? This looks to me like he’s trying to hire a sex worker.”  As it turned out I was wrong; the pictured exchange was apparently with a cousin who was trying to set up an amateur or semi-pro date for him.  But there were apparently a large number of fetishists and nitwits who looked at this and fantasized about “sex trafficking”.  And as is usual for True Believers, the idea that someone with actual experience in the topic at hand might know more than someone without such experience was like some kind of abstruse and esoteric branch of mathematics; a number of these butt-scratchers hastened to tell me that sex work really is the literal buying of a human being.  Now, I’ve taken a flamethrower to this absurd canard more times than I can count, and even speculated on the sexuality of anyone who could believe anything so deeply stupid.  But a new metaphor leapt to mind, so I mocked the imbeciles thus:

So you truly believe that everyone who pays a sex worker has that sex worker to keep, presumably in a hatbox in the closet?  How do you think that works when the average sees about a client per day?  Are they split up into increasingly-smaller fragments that yet retain the appearance of the original, like holograms?  Do you really believe that I am a godlike being, existing in 6 or 7 thousand places all over the planet simultaneously?  It’s a fascinating fantasy; you ought to write it up as a Doctor Who story.  I’m also trying to figure out where “hobbyist” clients, who might see a couple of dozen different workers a year, hide all the women they “buy”.  It must get to be a real strain on storage space; presumably they rent storage facilities in which to store all these holographic harlots.  Or maybe they just flush them down the loo like unwanted goldfish?  Seems like it might be an awful strain on the plumbing.

Twitter is an inherently volatile medium, though, so I thought it best to preserve in a place I can find it again the next time I want to mock the ludicrous beliefs of some prohibitionist chucklefuck.

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To a writer, words are tools intended to convey meaning and express beauty; to governments, words are tools intended to obscure meaning and oppress nonconformity.  To writers, language is the means by which we attempt to convey our thoughts to others; when we succeed, we introduce others to new ideas and possibly give them a new way of looking at a particular topic they may not have considered before.  But to authoritarians, language is a means of constraining thought and smothering new ideas.  Proper use of language opens minds; improper use closes them down.

The obfuscatory language government uses to obscure violence is a prime example.  There are a host of special words by which governments cloak their barbarities: abduction is euphemized as “arrest”, robbery as “confiscation” or “asset forfeiture”, sexual assault as “searching”, and murder as “execution”.  But those traditional terms are quaint and relatively clear in comparison to the obfuscatory language invented by modern propagandists to conceal evils in sterile, bloodless, technical-sounding terminology.  Intentionally ramming another car at freeway speeds with the specific intention of causing someone to crash is cloaked under the boring-sounding phrase “performed a PIT maneuver”.  Firing barbed probes carrying 50,000 volts into another human being is desribed by the apparently-mundane “deploying a taser”.  An armed government thug intentionally murdering someone in the street is called an “officer-involved shooting”.  A sadistic thug paid to torture and rape human beings held in cages against their will is a “correctional officer”, and so on.

The longer and more clinical a phrase, the less emotional weight it carries; Orwell would’ve well understood why the government wants to replace the word “ram” (short, direct, terse, active, hits like a punch) with the phrase “perform a PIT maneuver” (long, indirect, mushy, passive, hits like a nerf ball).  But it’s even more instructive to compare these phrases government operatives use to whitwash their own behavior with those used to demonize “enemies of the state”.  How do cops describe a legally-innocent person they choose to accuse of some crime?  “Perp”.  What about a person who refuses to allow puritanical busybodies to control their consensual, private behavior? “Criminal” (There are a number of even shorter, punchier words for “sex criminals”).  And those who refuse to comply with what they believe to be tyranny?  “Traitors”.  Government actors aren’t incapable of using direct, easy-to-understand language; they’re perfectly capable when they want to represent an ethically-complex situation as a black-and-white one.  But disguising their own abominations requires exactly the opposite approach: confusing simple minds with complex phrases so as to create ambiguity where little exists.

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Today is International Whores’ Day.  It is not “Sex Worker Day”; that is March 3rd.  Today is a day to shamelessly celebrate our shameless history, not a day to cater to the precious fee-fees of amateurs by neutering our terminology so as not to offend their delicate sensibilities with a raw, unsanitized word like “whore”.  But for the past several years, I’ve seen a number of sex worker organizations and social media accounts doing just that, and in doing so participating in the same process of sexual sanitization which inspires modern picket-fence gays to absurdly claim that huge fascist corporations and gangs of uniformed thugs employed by the state to inflict violence on sexual minorities are more welcome at an event commemorating an anti-cop riot than kinky queers are.  While the neo-Victorians who dominate 21st-century public discourse

…reject the belief that sex is innately bad, they also believe against all reason and evidence that it’s something like a radioactive material which must be handled with special and elaborate precautions or else it becomes the single most destructive force on Earth.  They imagine that engaging in sex for the “wrong” reasons, or without the benediction of elaborate rituals of consent, or with people separated from one another by more than a very few years of age, is terribly harmful…the desire to describe…sex…as “good” or “bad” is a very strong one, and for the neo-Victorian mind to accept sex into the “good” category it must be ritually purified by amputating all of its darker aspects, branding even the discussion of them as “violence”, and even pretending that they aren’t even sex at all.  This belief flies in the face of reality; sex, fear, dominance and violence are inextricably bound together, and only by living in a state of complete denial can someone pretend that the only valid, “healthy” and legal sex is that which is so sanitized and neutered that it resembles the real thing about as closely as a hamburger does a heifer…

Today is not a day for sanitized words or concepts; it is, in fact, exactly the opposite: a day to fight society’s attempts (via law and police violence) to sanitize the wilder, unrulier, more chthonic aspects of sex.  This is a day for sexual outlaws, not well-behaved “workers”; it is a day to celebrate the triumphs of criminalized human beings against a society that would rather we didn’t exist.  It is a day to oppose censorship, not to engage in self-censorship; a day to honor a means of survival that predates laws and governments by eons; and a day to celebrate a power which will always defeat even the most pernicious attempts to domesticate it.

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My go-to argument for skepticism about flying saucer sightings (which have been in the news again lately) is as follows: Any technology capable of getting here across interstellar distances would be able to avoid detection.  And if they wanted to be seen, they’d simply hover over New York City or something.  It’s basically the same as my argument against the idea that hypnosis can promote recall of past lives: If the deities or forces that control reincarnation wanted us to remember past lives, we would.  And if they didn’t, the Divine will couldn’t be circumvented by a parlor trick.  See, avoiding detection by radar and the like isn’t that difficult; we already have ideas (and elementary techniques) about how to do it right now.  But people without a background in physics and/or astronomy really don’t grasp just how difficult it is to get from one star to another within any practical timespan.  Popular sci-fi makes it look easy, but it’s incredibly difficult.  Surpassing the sound barrier was mostly a problem of engineering & metallurgy, but surpassing the light barrier is so hard we don’t even have any widely-accepted (by physicists) theory about how it might be done.  Compare the plethora of fictional ideas about what FTL travel might look like (hyperspace, wormholes, tachyons, spacetime folding, etc, etc, ad absurdum) to Renaissance fantasies about going to the Moon; the real thing, when we finally develop it, will probably resemble Star Trek about as closely as a Saturn V resembles a kite towed by birds.  I’m defintely not saying that there are no such thing as alien visitors; what I am saying is that I won’t get excited about it until I’m offered more convincing proof than, “Some jet-jockeys saw lights that appeared to move impossibly fast.”

Incidentally, there’s a reason I say “flying saucers” rather than “UFOs”.  Even when I was a tween (during the ’70s UFO craze) and people asked “Do you believe in UFOs?” I’d answer, “Yes, I believe there are things that fly that those who see them can’t identify.”  At the time, I was still young and impressionable enough to believe in alien visitation, ancient astronauts, the whole schtick.  But even then, I recognized using “Unidentified Flying Object” to mean “definitely an alien spacecraft” was dumb.

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Eradicating harm—[as now] redefined—may only amount to performance art, in which the semblance of action is all that is needed.  –  Eric Smith

Crying Wolf

This tendency has only worsened over the past decade:

The standard definition of harm has undergone concept creep…Where once the potential for harm existed in contact sports, accidents, physical altercations, traumas and so on, one might now find it while reading a question on an examlistening to a recorded debate in a classroom or encountering an opinion on social media…the broadening meaning of harm…can cause activists to spend so much time on relatively innocuous actions that they have none left for the arduous task of dealing with real societal harms like housing and food insecurity, failed educational institutions, violence in inner cities and disproportionate mortality rates…Defining harm as shallowly as many modern activists do leads them to mistake symbolic gestures for concrete strategies for change…the redefinition of harm [also] infantilizes people of color…I don’t think a world in which people of color give their power away so easily is one any self-respecting person of color would want to see…

Checklist (#986)

Your periodic reminder that Uber encourages its drivers to spy on riders and rat sex workers out to the pigs:

Uber…hire[s former pigs and spooks]…to help police catch suspected [sex worker]s…[by turning over their] uploaded information…[and] account identifiers…to…the…[pigs, referring to sex work as] human trafficking [equal to] carjackings…Uber works with the [rescue industry giant] “Polaris”…[to indoctrinate] Uber drivers [with absurd and overbroad “signs of] human trafficking[“]…

A Moral Cancer (#991)

It’s unusual for prohibitionists to admit they’re openly targeting black people:

[Prohibitionist] groups are applying…pressure on the Biden administration to institute a nationwide ban…o[n] menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products…precisely because of [their] popularity with African Americans…[even if] the law [is only] enforced against sellers…entrepreneurs would still have ready access to both cigarettes and menthol flavoring…[and] combin[ing] the two…[is a fairly simple] process…Unless the federal government attempts to turn menthol itself into a controlled substance, there will surely be many small-time sellers of menthol cigarettes meeting the demand of the millions of Americans who smoke them, including at least 77 percent of black smokers, but possibly as high as 88 percent (and around a quarter of white smokers)…Recall that Eric Garner’s [murderer used]…the petty crime of selling loose cigarettes a[s an excuse, and]…Garner’s mother, Gwendolyn Carr, became a vocal opponent of a proposal to ban menthol cigarettes in New York City [as a result]…in Massachusetts, which banned menthol cigarettes in 2020, at least one [black market]  seller is facing prosecution…the brunt of enforcement [will certainly] be borne by [black] people…

This is, unfortunately, par for the course; “progressive” campaigns to “improve” people against their will always ignore the fact that their moralistic crusades always disproportionately harm minorities, especially black people.

You Were Warned (#1108)

Prohibitionists, censors and profiteers will continue to harass businesses thus until FOSTA is overturned:

A woman has sued Reddit [because] ex-boyfriend…repeatedly post[ed nude] images of her as a 16-year-old.  The lawsuit applies controversial measures instituted in 2018 under FOSTA-SESTA…The resulting case will test the limits of platforms’ legal shields amid ongoing efforts to [destroy] the law behind them.  The woman…[claims] that “Reddit knowingly benefits from lax enforcement of its content polices, including for child pornography”…She’s accusing Reddit of distributing child pornography, failing to report child sexual abuse material, and violating the Trafficking Victims Protection Act…

The Widening Gyre (#1128)

It’s ironic that the newest target of “sex trafficking” scarelore is Target:

A…Reddit…user…who writes under the username Peeky-Lou…[and is so obsessed with] human trafficking…[fantasies that] she…[carries “]several legal self-defense items[” to go shopping at Target predictably imagined that]…three men…[in the store were] follow[ing her]…“It felt as if I was being surrounded like a wild animal —hunted, even,” she wrote…The…[nitwit spent] an hour…wandering around the store, [scaring herself silly with melodramatic fantasies of]…“darkness in his eyes…an eerie smirk [and]…sinister gaze”…[when] a male employee…walk[ed] her to her car…[she] saw [something that]…”solidif[ied] all of my suspicions…A white windowless van was parked in the lot“…

To Molest and Rape (#1129)

Rapist cops are sometimes treated like other rapists if their victims are prepubescent:

A [typical and representative] Louisiana [cop] has been sentenced to life in prison for raping and sexually assaulting three girls, all less than 11 years old…David Monceaux [was sentenced] to…two life terms and a 50-year sentence consecutively…without probation, parole, or suspension of sentence…his youngest victim was 4 years old…

Predictable Consequences (#1130)

Prohibitionism is an inherently violent belief system:

A mansion owned by Feras Antoon, a Pornhub executive, was torched in an apparent arson last [week].  Police…were initially called to [the Montreal] property…at 11:30 P.M when two people were spotted trespassing…when [they] arrived…shortly thereafter they found…a…fire…so massive that more than 80 firefighters were called in and the neighbours were forced to evacuate…

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Spelling Optional

Have schools just completely given up teaching kids to spell?  Because it seems that nowadays, people coining neologisms just spell them any way they feel like without any regard for pronounciation whatsoever.  It might make sense (it’d still be wrong, but at least understandable) if these dolts only interacted with each other via text and never, ever pronounced any of these words out loud, but that isn’t the case; if anything, many of them prefer to watch videos rather than learn via the written word.  Intentional misspellings have long been common in branding, but at least the brand spelling could usually still be pronounced correctly; “Kool-Aid” is pronounced the same as “Cool-ade” would be.  But one of the brands of cannabis edibles I often find in our house is called “Flav”, apparently prounced “Flave”; there was a ’90s rapper whose stage name contained the same linguistic abortion.

Silent E is not an optional rule, as Tom Lehrer reminds us; he even warns against adding an “x”, advice apparently unfamiliar to the halfwits who coined the wokism “Latinx”, a construction which manages to be an offense to two languages.  This may come as a shock to those who believe the name “Xavier” is pronounced “ecks-ayvier”, but the letter “x” is only pronounced “ecks” if set apart by a space or hyphen, as in “x-ray” or “X factor”.  “Xylophone” is not pronounced “ecks-why-low-fone”, and “box” doesn’t rhyme with “Bowflex”; why then do the rather dim imagine “Latinx” should be pronounced any way but “laa-tinks”?  And how the devil do its adherents imagine “womxn” should be pronounced?  I can’t even think of a wrong way to vocalize that.  But the idea that adjacent letters can be prounounced as though there were some kind of punctuation between them isn’t limited to “x”, oh no;  I regularly see people pronouncing the neologism “cishet” (a contraction for “cisgender heterosexual”) as “siss het”, which it cannot be because “sh” is a digraph, a pairing of two letters that make one sound.  “Washing” is not pronounced “waass hing”, and if you want the coinage to be pronounced the way it commonly is, it should be spelled “cis-het” at the very least.  Suffering Sappho, people, I have no aversion to neologisms; I use plenty of them myself.  But doesn’t English have enough exceptions to rules of spelling and pronounciation already without y’all adding new ones totally unmoored from either tradition or logic?  Words mean things, and so do spellings.

POSTSCRIPT:  A reader has pointed out that “mishap” is pronounced in the same way as “cishet”, so it’s an unusual but not-unheard-of pronounciation of that combo.  I therefore rescind my criticism of that one, though I personally still think it sounds awkward.

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