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The Best Option

I recently received a letter from a new reader which, among other things, asked why I became a sex worker, and volunteered a number of suggested motives, none of which (other than “Was it the money?”) made much sense to me.  This was my reply.

Everyone has to have money to live, and unlike square jobs, escorting involves neither bosses, nor licenses, nor “permits”, nor piss tests, nor arbitrary rules, nor uniforms, nor “zoning”, nor “reporting” to anyone, nor having to ask permission to be sick (or to run errands during the day), nor creepy surveillance of my personal life, nor the government stealing a big chunk of my income before I even see it and then forcing me to ask for some of it back, nor any of the myriad other oppressions or indignities most people just accept as the cost of material existence.  Sex work is much more lucrative per unit time than any other honest work requiring no degree, certificate, or title of nobility, and its flexibility is almost unparalleled even in comparison with other modes of self-employment.  In short, I chose sex work because it allows me to live my life with the minimum amount of interruption and distraction from what I actually want to do, and you’ll find that’s a pretty common theme running through the lives of the great majority of us.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

In the News (#1271)

It’s very frustrating to be a gynecologist in Texas.  –  Dr. Lauren Swords

Bad Girls

It’s an extremely bad idea to try to do the work of a professional, whether dominatrix or lawyer, without any training in the field:

After three days of often graphic evidence, sex worker Madeleine Joan Lewin offered no explanation about what happened…the night Brisbane businessman Anthony Brady died…the 34-year-old, representing herself at her manslaughter trial…sat…silently throughout the proceedings…she did not cross examine any witnesses and did not give evidence or make a closing statement to the jury.  It took the 12 jurors less than an hour to return a unanimous guilty verdict…Brady…[died] during a consensual bondage activity on the evening of August 12, 2020…[apparently from positional asphyxia as he] was found face down on the bed with a hood over his head, and handcuffs and bindings around his wrists and legs…Some of the bindings were difficult for police to remove…[and] Lewin had [fled the scene]…in a hurry…

Property of the State (#1149)

Women of childbearing age should avoid Alabama entirely if at all possible:

…Several pregnant women and new moms accused of exposing their fetuses to drugs have been [caged] for weeks or months in…Etowah County [Alabama]…under special bond conditions that require rehab and $10,000 cash…As a result…Etowah County…often [cages] several pregnant and postpartum women [at a time], against the advice of experts on maternal and fetal health…“The stress and conditions in jail and prisons, including lack of consistent access to standard prenatal care and mental health care, poor diets, poor sanitation, infestations with bugs and vermin, poor ventilation, tension, noise, lack of privacy, lack of family and community contact, can be detrimental to physical and mental health which can result in poor pregnancy outcomes for both the mother and the baby,” [said prominent OB-GYN Dr. Carolyn] Sufrin…It’s difficult to know how many…women…Etowah County [victimizes in this way.  Reporters]…found seven pregnant or postpartum women in a recent investigation of the jail log…National Advocates for Pregnant Women…have tracked more than 150 chemical endangerment cases involving women in Etowah County since 2010…

Legislators Gone Wild (#1198) 

The fanatical, unhinged Guinasso and his pet fantasist are at it again, now with the financial backing of Morality in Media:

…one of Las Vegas’ premier strip clubs, Sapphire Las Vegas…[and] the Chicken Ranch, an unrelated…[Nevada brothel, have been targeted by a nuisance law]suit [filed by]…Morality in Media…and [fanatical anti-sex lawyer] Jason Guinasso…[with the help of two professional “survivors” who hope to profit from the dying “sex trafficking” hysteria by pretending they were] “sex trafficked in Nevada through legal strip clubs, including the Sapphire Gentleman’s Club”…Conflating all legal sex work with “sex trafficking” has been one of the key strategies used by [Morality in Media] in its ambitious quest to outlaw all consensual sex work, one of the group’s core goals…the organization…also planned to sue Steve Sisolak, the governor of Nevada; Aaron Ford, the state’s attorney general; the city of Las Vegas; and Nevada’s Clark County and Nye County.  However, the court ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue those parties…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (#1199) 

The latest chapter in this nasty, twisted saga:

The FBI announced…that it had placed GirlsDoPorn owner Michael Pratt on its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, and doubled the reward for information leading to his arrest from $50,000 to $100,000…On July 26, Matthew Wolfe, Pratt’s second in command for the shuttered GirlsDoPorn website, pleaded guilty…to a single count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking…Pratt, a New Zealand national, escaped the U.S. before federal charges against the company and its employees were unsealed in 2019…

The Cop Myth (#1236)

Why are people shocked when men paid and encouraged to behave violently, behave violently?

A…[typical and represntative] California [cop] has been charged [for] murder[ing]…a married couple…Devin Williams…was allegedly dating the female victim…Maria Tran and [murdered] her [and her] husband…Benison Tran [when he discovered she was married]…the pair’s 14-year-old-son…walked in on the crime in progress…Williams fled…but…turned himself in nearly 11 hours later…

Property of the State (#1259)

“Hard cases” are more common than forced-birth proponents want you to believe:

Kristina Cruickshank…lost her unborn baby…in her 15th week of pregnancy…[she] was frail, vomiting and in pain when she and her husband, John, arrived at Houston Methodist Sugar Land on…June 3.  She needed an abortion…but…it…was not clear whether Kristina was exempt from Texas abortion laws, which threaten providers with felonies and lawsuits for performing abortions except to treat a miscarriage or a loosely defined “medical emergency.”  Her fetus still had a heartbeat, and she did not yet need life-saving care…So over the next three days, a sick and distraught Kristina was stuck in limbo, waiting…while an ethics committee reviewed the case…

Winding Down (#1265)

Your “leaders” know what’s best, so shut up and obey:

Arkansas is one of a handful of states, and the only Southern state, that allows voters to directly pass laws and amend the state constitution by ballot referendum.  Placing an initiative on the ballot requires collecting signatures from registered voters equal to 8 percent of the total votes for governor in the most recent election.  Currently, that number is 89,151.  In July, Responsible Growth Arkansas…submitted a [legalization] measure with over 190,000 signatures, more than twice the necessary number…[but] the State Board of Election Commissioners…denied the measure’s title and, therefore, its ballot eligibility…Responsible Growth Arkansas sued Secretary of State John Thurston…The Arkansas Supreme Court preliminarily ordered Thurston to certify the measure for November’s general election ballot but noted that it would not ultimately be able to hear arguments on the case until September…

Diary #637

Once the days get back to a bearable length and the evenings start to grow cool, my brain starts returning to its normal, non-agitated state pretty quickly.  This isn’t to say that I am completely free of anxiety; given my nature and the fact that we live in an imperfect world full of troubles and problems, I doubt I’ll ever be completely free of that at any time before I cross the river.  But I’m no longer in the agitated state of apparently-causeless anxiety which is my lot from at least the beginning of May until the end of August.  I’ve slept better for the past week than I have since spring, and the cooler weather makes it much easier to relax once the sun goes down at something at least resembling a sensible hour.  It’s still going to be a few more weeks before I’m fully centered again, but even movement in that direction is a blessed relief.  And given that the rainy season is now only about a month off, I’m really looking forward to being able to stay dry when going to the shop or cottages, no matter how heavily it comes down.

Last week I was involved in an online discussion about writing ability, and whether it is actually less common among people who majored in STEM fields vs those who majored in the humanities; I explained that, in my experience as a writer, editor, and former teacher and librarian, it isn’t common in either group, but is slightly less uncommon in the humanities.  I used to edit technical papers as a side gig, and they were often so unintelligible I had to get on the phone to the author to ask what in God’s name he was trying to say.

Of course, the problem is a bit more complex than a simple “which group is better”; certain subgroups of humanities majors, most notably those in the “Ideological Studies” ghetto, are taught to write such convoluted, cumbersome gibberish that after graduation most of them can’t stop doing it even when explicitly told not to.  I was once in a working group trying to draft a press release; despite everyone being told we wanted to keep the language concise, simple, and straightforward for the general public, the draft modifications one group came up with were absolutely larded with academic and identity-politics jargon.  We had to ignore nearly all their contributions in the final draft because the additions, prevarications, disclaimers, lists, and semantically-empty garbage they wanted to insert would’ve tripled the length while crippling the meaning.  It’s important to recognize that this was not truly their fault; for their entire academic careers these participants were repeatedly rewarded for crafting ugly, clunky, unreadable rubbish interchangeable with every other statement of its type, the literary equivalent of an East German institutional building.  Writing ability develops with practice; unfortunately, many students of the past several decades have been taught practices that make their writing worse instead of better.  So, I guess the best summary of the situation is:  Most students start as bad writers.  STEM students tend not to improve.  Humanities majors in traditional fields usually improve at least some.  And “ideological studies” majors improve at writing committee-approved ideological garbage.  People learn what they’re taught.  If they’re taught to write properly, they’ll learn that.  If they’re taught to write improperly, they’ll learn that instead.  And if they aren’t taught to write at all, they will learn whatever they are taught.

Links #636

Bud, it’s okay, you’re not in trouble.  –  murderer to his victim

The big news this week was of course the passing of Queen Elizabeth II; this selection seems the appropriate one for such an occasion.  The links above it were contributed by Cop Crisis (x2), Amy AlkonTim Cushing, Clarissa, Radley Balko, and Elizabeth N. Brown, in that order.

From the Archives

In the News (#1270)

It doesn’t sound as though the case was going very well for the government so far.  –  Judge William Fletcher

If Men Were Angels 

It’s getting harder to tell the preachers from the cops:

A former [pastor and] teacher at a [Pennsylvania] evangelical school was convicted [on August 31st] of sexually assaulting a first grader there in 2007.  Randy Lee Boston…denied the allegations, [claim]ing…that he had barely any interaction with the alleged victim while he was enrolled at the school.  But in an interview with police, a recording of which was played in court, Boston admitted to having sexual desires “connected to young boys” and being attracted to their bodies…

Choke Point (#593) 

Wells Fargo has repeatedly shown itself to be among the worst perpetrators of this abuse:

Sex workers…are reporting that the bank Wells Fargo has sent them notices terminating their accounts effective immediately, in what they see as an extension of the crackdown measures banks and other large institutions have been implementing over the past few years.  In the letters, which are dated August 25…Wells Fargo offers zero explanation for the decision…Alana Evans, the president of the Adult Performance Artists’ Guild (APAG), says that she has been a client with Wells Fargo in good standing for nearly 30 years…Spike Irons and Sofie Marie, who run…a porn production company…primarily use[d] the[ir now-closed] account to pay out independent contractors…They have since applied to two other banks and been rejected…Former adult performer Raylene has been out of the industry for a decade, and says she’s had her Wells Fargo account for 22 years.  She, too, received the same notice…despite the only adult industry-related payment on her account being residuals from a lifetime contract with Streammate…In 2014, JP Morgan Chase closed down many adult performers’ accounts without providing any explanation…

See No Evil (#1167)

Legalese for “get out of my courtroom, you opportunist”:

A federal judge…dismissed a lawsuit filed by a man who, as a baby, had graced the cover of Nirvana’s seminal album, Nevermind, and argued 30 years later that the iconic photo of him drifting naked in a pool had been a form of sexual exploitation…Spencer Elden…[even] accused Nirvana…of engaging in child pornography…The judge, Fernando M. Olguin, wrote in his eight-page ruling that because Mr. Elden had learned about the album cover more than 10 years ago, he had waited too long to file his lawsuit, making his claims untimely…

Dangerous Speech (#1186)

The government’s evil clown show continues in a new ring:

Oral arguments in the Lacey/Larkin appeal took place Sept. 2 before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, where the defense presented a forceful case that the government didn’t deserve a retrial…[one] issue was the testimony of California cop Brian Fichtner during last year’s…mistrial due to prosecutorial misconduct…the government…repeatedly mentioned or elicited testimony related to sex trafficking or child sex trafficking, though Lacey, Larkin, et al. are not charged with such…[prosecution witness] Fichtner, who investigated Backpage previously for then-Cali AG Kamala Harris’ failed 2016 prosecution of Lacey and Larkin, was…eviscerated on cross-examination by the defense and forced to admit that the content of the ads on Backpage was legal and on its own did not give law enforcement probable cause to arrest anyone for prostitution…this point…is important because the appellate court must find that the government had a reason to sabotage its own case for the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on double jeopardy to kick in…the prosecution faced certain defeat, and so chose to throw the case, and retool its strategy for a retrial…

A Woman’s Point of View (#1201) 

Another Vermont city achieves de facto decriminalization:

Montpelier has become the second city in Vermont to repeal its antiquated prostitution ordinance in the past year…most municipalities in Vermont do not have ordinances banning prostitution [so]…repealing the language…bring[s] Montpelier in line with the rest of the state.  Though bills proposing to decriminalize prostitution were introduced during the past two legislative sessions, they did not advance and prostitution remains criminalized at the state level…

The Cop Myth (#1232)

How long will America ignore the costs of its sick worship of state-sanctioned violence?

California…[cops murder]ed nearly 1,000 people in six years…[despite] recent legislative attempts to curtail police violence by toughening the rules of engagement for officers, requiring deescalation training and bringing in outside investigators when unarmed civilians are killed [but not actually holding the murderers responsible as ifthey were non-cops]…For the sixth straight year, Los Angeles County was the setting for the largest number (172) and highest rate (27.4 incidents per 100,000 residents) of [police violence too serious to ignore] in the state last year…

I Spy (#1233)

Modern fascism has spun a terrifyingly-extensive surveillance net:

[Cop shop]s from suburban Southern California to rural North Carolina have been using an obscure cellphone tracking tool, [usually] without search warrants, that gives them the power to follow people’s movements months back in time…[cops] have used “Fog Reveal” to search hundreds of billions of records from 250 million mobile devices, and harnessed the data to create location analyses known among [pigs] as “patterns of life”…The tool is rarely, if ever, mentioned in court records, something that defense attorneys say makes it harder for them to properly defend their clients in cases in which the technology was used.  The company was developed by two former high-ranking Department of Homeland Security officials under former President George W. Bush.  It relies on advertising identification numbers…culled from popular cellphone apps such as Waze, Starbucks and hundreds of others that target ads based on a person’s movements and interests…that information is then sold to companies like Fog…

Annex 81

Of all construction tasks, I hate painting the most.  It’s messy, it’s expensive, I’m not good at it, and it takes a lot more patience that I have to do it properly.  I even hate it more than I hate working on rooves, which is saying something because, as you know if you’ve been following this saga, I really hate working on rooves.  So you can probably imagine that painting rooves is just about the peak of odious tasks for me.  But the steel rafters and purlins had to be protected from rust, and nobody thought of painting the damned things before they were used for construction, so that meant painting them in place.  After thinking about it for a while I decided to use spray paint for most of the job; though it’s more expensive in the long run, it was easier to do from the tops of ladders, especially for the steel over the hot tub where there’s no easy way to place a ladder.  The spray paint was also quicker and allowed me to get some hard-to-reach parts from a short distance away; since most of the area will be decorated with hanging fabric, the paint job didn’t need to be more than a primary coat to protect the steel and reduce the color contrast.  The only exception is the bathroom area (to the right of the picture), so I had to use regular paint in that part (and it’ll require another coat later); there are also a few parts that will be painted a copper color because they’ll remain visible (such as the post and crossbar at the center of this shot).  It took 12 cans of spray paint to do the area shown here plus most of the apex beam; another 6 cans took care of most of the east end.  There’s still a little to do, about 3 more cans I think, but I’m putting it off until next week or so, because did I tell you I hate painting?  Even with a protective mask I manage to inhale the stuff, and I got so much overspray around my eyes Grace said I looked like a photographic negative of a panda.  I had to scrub my skin red to get it all off, and I was still finding little spots in strange places, including some I know were covered by clothes, for over a week.

The Nuclear Option

Why are people who chose 20th-century-style US nuclear families (which aren’t the same as traditional extended families by a long shot) so very certain that other lifestyles lose meaning after 40?  I am in my late 50s and still have so many things to do I will never get to them all before I cross the river.  Lest some of you claim I’m an anomaly: most of my friends are age-peers or thereabouts, many are childless by choice, and I don’t see any meaningful difference in life-satisfaction levels between those who have kids and those who don’t.  Honestly, these people remind me of the dudes who believe that 30 is a “wall” after which women instantly lose all sexual attractiveness.  And frankly, both types seem like they’re trying to convince themselves that their preferences are the only “correct” ones.  Furthermore, even if you’re a person who hates living alone, it’s possible to form partner bonds with people you’re not boinking, and if you really feel the need to care for some else who needs the help, you could choose to commit to caring for a dependent parent or other relative, or a friend who isn’t biologically related.  There’s nothing wrong with choosing to have kids, if you feel you want to.  But if you have them as a kind of insurance policy against boredom in later adulthood, you’re having them for the wrong (and very selfish) reasons.

In the News (#1269)

Senator Klobuchar…is deliberately seeking to destroy [the internet].  –  Mike Masnick

Stalkers in Blue

No woman is safe from predatory cops:

A Prairie Village [Kansas cop] was allowed to stay on the job for 19 months after department officials were alerted that he had [pressur]ed a woman for sex after arresting her…Attorney Brandan Davies said he reported to Prairie Village police in March 2020 that…Rolando Swaby had arrested his client in a DUI case and later sent text messages asking her to meet him at a hotel for drinks and sex ahead of a court hearing in her case…Davies…thought the [cop] would be fired…[but he] was allowed to remain on the force for more than a year and a half until he was investigated in an unrelated domestic violence case in October 2021.  He later resigned and lost his Kansas police license…

You Were Warned (#1116)

Monkey see, monkey do:

…a law…[pushed by] Senator Amy Klobuchar and Rep. David Cicilline…[is another] link tax bill, similar to the one written in Australia to appease (and enrich) Rupert Murdoch.  It basically says that publishers can band together, with an antitrust exemption, to demand fees from bigger, more successful internet companies…Klobuchar…is [known for]…pushing bills that fundamentally break the internet…[and her] new version of the JCPA…[does so doubly by] only appl[ying] to smaller news orgs — those with under 1,500 employees …We’re at a time when hedge funds — most notably Alden Capital — have been buying up newspapers and laying off tons of people while trying to squeeze cash out of the remaining husks.  And, this bill basically says “buy up large newspapers and cut them to under 1,500 employees”…here’s Amy Klobuchar saying…“you get free money just as long as you fire enough people first“…But, the much bigger problem is that the bill is trying to break the internet…[by] allow[ing] news orgs to…force internet companies…to pay the journalism organizations for…sending them traffic…This is ludicrous.  News orgs beg these sites for traffic.  They hire SEO people to try to get more traffic.  Now they’re also getting to FORCE the internet companies to PAY them for that traffic too?…

Torture Chamber (#1207)

Give brutal, sexually-aggressive men total power over women, then act surprised when the eminently predictable happens:

A North Carolina [screw]…was fired and arrested for [rap]ing [female prisoners]…Khalim Jovan Battle…[raped at least] two [women powerless to defend themselves from him].  He…anally [raped]…one [and]…oral[ly raped both]…

Opting Out (#1214) 

Authoritarians believe that the people they want to impose their evil upon are either very stupid or very gullible:

…California’s AB 2273, the “Age Appropriate Design Code” bill that the California legislature seems eager to pass…seemed to be getting very little attention, but after a few [Techdirt] posts started to go viral, the backers of the bill ramped up their smear campaigns and lies…and…the “Age Verification Providers Association” decided to show up in the comments to defend themselves and insist that their members can do age verification in a privacy-protective manner.  You just have to let them scan your face with facial recognition technology… they insist it’s not “facial recognition” software because it’s not matching you up to a database of your identity…it’s just using “AI” to guess estimate your age.  What could possibly go wrong?  But, more to the point, they’re basically saying “don’t worry, you’ll just need to scan your face or ID for every website your visit.”  Normalizing facial scans…seems pretty dystopian, frankly…

Thought Control (#1252)

Of course, the politicians have already got what they wanted: positive attention from censorious asshats:

The [obscenity] trial in Virginia Beach, Virginia…of…two books has ended in dismissal.  Neither Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe nor A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas meet the legal definition of obscenity…Two lawsuits…sought to get both books not only removed from schools and libraries, but removed from private sale through bookstores across the state…Th[is] outcome…will help in setting a standard…that books like these…do not meet the legal definition of obscenity [regardless of what pro-censorship fanatics may claim]…

Unsafe for Human Consumption (#1262)

Fentanyl is being inserted into every popular scare myth:

The…DEA…[is fantasizing about] an “alarming” trend of brightly-colored fentanyl made to look like candy that is being used to attract children…The agency [claims collaborator pigs, in other words the same people who fantasize that casual contact with fentanyl produces instant overdose that exactly mimics the symptoms of a panic attack,] began s[teal]ing brightly colored “rainbow fentanyl” [from its owners last] month…in 18 states so far…“Rainbow fentanyl — fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes — is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst [people who cannot pay for the product, because they’re EEEEEEEEEEVUL!]” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram [bloviated]…

This is, of course, the same old nonsense cops vomit out in the approach to Halloween every year, only with “fentanyl” inserted in place of “marijuana” or other drugs, Mad Libs style.  Given that we’ve also recently seen fentanyl being inserted in place of magic “sex trafficking” drugs in social media scary tales, I’d say it’s safe to declare that fentanyl is now the subject of its own moral panic.

To Molest and Rape (#1268)

“Having inappropriate contact with a minor” is such a nice way of saying “molesting a kid”:

An arrest warrant has been issued for a Denham Springs [cop who molested]…a minor…Joseph Reid Copeland…is believed [to have fled]…the…area…

Diary #636

The weather this year was very weird. First the winter weather lasted five months, all the way through May, then spring went by all too quickly before we went into an unusually-hot, unusually-dry summer.  Of course, since I live near a rain forest, “unusually dry” for us is still nothing like a drought.  However, it played hob with our fruit; as of this writing the few apples I’m seeing on the trees are still quite green, and I haven’t seen any plums at all.  The blackberries were the only exception; they fruited well, though most of the berries were too small to use.  Still, I easily got a basketfull, and on Sunday I made a blackberry pie.  The same day I also noticed that the vines in the lane bore much more heavily and with much larger, nicer fruit, so I picked a bunch more yesterday.  I’m not sure I’ll have enough for jam, but if I don’t I can still make blackberry muffins or another pie, and have the leftovers for dessert with cream and sugar.