Tales of Rock: Pete Townshend Says Child Pornography Arrest Saved His Life

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend says his arrest on child pornography charges was the best thing that ever happened to him, as it led him to discover he had cancer.

In 2003, Townshend was arrested for using his credit card to access a website offering child pornography, although no images were downloaded.

Townshend was given a warning and put on the Sex Offenders Register for five years. Townshend had claimed that he was only trying to prove banks were complicit with the child porn industry.

“Just for the record, my arrest was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me. It probably saved my life,” Townshend said during an interview with The Mail.

Townshend said he had kept putting off being checked for bowel cancer after his father died from the hereditary disease.

“I had a cancerous polyp in my bowel,” he says. “While I was waiting for the police to go through my computers, I decided to have that long-postponed colonoscopy. The doctor showed me the polyp. He said, ‘This would have killed you in six months.’ So it sort of saved my life.”

 

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Kamala Harris Breaks Glass Ceiling as First Female Vice President, First Woman VP of Color

The vice presidential glass ceiling has been broken.

California Sen. Kamala Harris will make history as the first woman elected vice president, now that Joe Biden won enough states to capture the White House.

Biden beat Donald Trump four years after Hillary Clinton came up short in her bid to be the first female president.

Harris, 56, was the first African American woman and the first Asian American person on a major party’s presidential ticket.

Joe Biden and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., raise their arms up as fireworks go off on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. Looking on are Jill Biden and Harris' husband Doug Emhoff.

Her husband, entertainment lawyer Doug Emhoff, will be the first “Second Gentleman.”

Harris has said she expects to work closely with Biden, offering him a perspective shaped by a different background.

“It is about a partnership that also is informed by one of the reasons I think Joe asked me to join him, which is that he and I have – we have the same ideals and values but we have very different life experiences,” Harris said during her final fundraiser for the campaign.

President Barack Obama has called her an “ideal partner” for Biden who is more than prepared for the job as “someone who knows what it’s like to overcome barriers.”

Only the second Black woman to be elected to the Senate, Harris was the first Black woman to be elected district attorney in San Francisco and attorney general of California.

Biden had faced tremendous pressure to choose a woman of color as his running mate because of the large role African Americans – and particularly Black women – have played in the Democratic Party and because of the racial issues thrust into the foreground by the coronavirus pandemic and the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police.

“There is no vaccine for racism,” Harris said during her vice presidential acceptance speech. “We’ve got to do the work for George Floyd, for Breonna Taylor and for the lives of too many others to name.”

Announcing his choice, Biden called the former prosecutor a “fearless fighter for the little guy, one of the country’s finest public servants.”

Only two ran before her

Harris was only the third female vice presidential nominee of a major party ticket.

Her debate with Vice President Mike Pence was the second-most watched vice presidential debate, after the 2008 matchup between Biden and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was running mate to Republican nominee John McCain.

Harris’ response when Pence tried to cut in on her time, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking – I’m speaking,” sparked a meme. T-shirts, face masks and other products emblazoned with those words were quickly available for sale on the internet.

Biden’s age contributed to the public’s interest in Harris, as his 77 years increase the chance that he might not serve a full term or seek re-election.

Republicans sought to characterize Harris as member of the “radical left” who would control the more centrist Biden.

Voters had a divided opinion of Harris, with 46% “very” or “somewhat” favorable and 47% “very” or “somewhat” unfavorable, according to a VoteCast survey of 110,405 voters by The Associated Press. The difference was as polarized as the rest of the election. Those viewing her favorably almost entirely – 93% – supported Biden, while 87% of those viewing her unfavorably supported Trump, according to the survey.

Sen. Kamala Harris speaks on stage.

Breaking barriers of race and gender

Biden’s selection of Harris gave the campaign a big fundraising boost. Backers sent more than $34 million immediately after Biden announced his pick, and she headlined numerous fundraisers throughout the fall. Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., which Harris belongs to, began donating $19.08. The sorority, the oldest Greek-letter organization established by Black college-educated women, was founded in 1908 at Howard University, her alma mater.

Harris was often dispatched to energize voters of color, particularly Black Americans. The first candidate on a major party ticket to have attended a historically Black university, Harris campaigned at HBCUs, barbershops and other places of significance for communities of color. For many virtual campaign events, Harris broadcast out of a studio set up at Howard University.

“I say it’s about time a graduate from a state university and a HBCU graduate are in the White House,” Biden said of himself and Harris at a drive-in rally in Atlanta.

Who is Doug Emhoff?

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and her husband Doug Emhoff take the stage during a drive-in get out the vote rally, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Philadelphia.

Emhoff was also a regular presence on the campaign trail and formed a bond with Jill Biden, who preceded him as the spouse of a vice president.

Emhoff, who will be the first Jewish American in the vice presidential residence, was a regular Biden surrogate for campaign events targeted to Jewish supporters. He was also “sent all the time to probably the hardest spots,” Biden senior strategic adviser Greg Schultz said during an October campaign event.

Emhoff has been offered lots of advice on how to tackle his new role.

“Everyone’s got an opinion on this, which is nice to hear,” Emhoff said during the campaign. “Which means people are actually excited about the prospect of someone like me in this role – and I get that.”

He hopes to tap his legal background and focus on justice-related issues, particularly “access to justice.”

Emhoff still has the voicemail of a congratulatory call from Biden after Harris and Emhoff got engaged in March 2014.

It was Harris’ first marriage and Emhoff’s second. His son and daughter – named Cole and Ella after jazz legends Cole Porter and Ella Fitzgerald – came up with their own name for their stepmother: Mamala.

“To my brother and me, you’ll always be ‘Mamala,’ the world’s greatest stepmom,” Ella said in a video montage introducing Harris before her convention speech. “You’re a rock, not just for our dad, but for three generations of our big, blended family.”

During an appearance on Hillary Clinton’s podcast, Harris described how she had been teaching Emhoff how to cook after the pandemic confined them to their Washington, D.C., apartment.

Harris’ own passion for cooking was often a topic on the campaign trail. She has described it as “one of my joys” and recirculated a video of herself making masala dosa with actress and writer Mindy Kaling last year.

She told Clinton that one of Emhoff’s own culinary attempts went awry, setting off a fire alarm. Harris had to wave her briefing book back and forth to clear the air. The couple subsequently agreed that Emhoff should stick to three dishes he knows how to cook – “and we don’t need to experiment with anything else,” Harris said.

Kamala Harris, left, with her sister, Maya, and mother, Shyamala, in January 1970, in Berkeley, California.

Presidential ambitions

Harris had competed against Biden for the Democratic nomination but ended her bid before the first primary votes were cast.

She struggled to place herself in an ideological camp, particularly on how far she would go to enact Medicare for All. She also faced criticism from some on the left for her prosecutorial record.

One of her campaign’s biggest moments came during a debate when she challenged Biden over his remarks about working with segregationist senators. She described herself as part of the second class to integrate her school as a child after mandatory school busing, which forced Biden to apologize for his earlier comments.

Although Biden didn’t hold a grudge, Trump immediately called Harris a “phony” after her selection. He frequently made fun of her first name – which is Sanskrit for lotus – and hurled insults at her from his campaign rallies, included calling her a monster.

Women’s groups spent millions on ads to “push back on disinformation and racist, sexist attacks” on Harris and show her in a positive light.

“She has taken on some of the toughest fights…and she’s done it all with a sense of style,” said the narrator in an ad called “Chucks” that included footage of Harris wearing her signature shoe choice and a young girl dancing in Chuck Taylors. “Someday soon, anyone will be able to see themselves as president.”

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris on the campaign trail in Milwaukee.

Daughter of immigrants

Harris was born in Oakland, California, to Shyamala Gopalan, a breast-cancer scientist who emigrated from India, and Donald Harris, a professor of economics who emigrated from Jamaica.

Her first job was cleaning laboratory pipettes for her mother.

“She fired me. I was awful,” Harris said.

Gopalan would also tell Harris and her sister, “Don’t sit around and complain about things, do something.”

Harris frequently mentions the “stroller’s-eye view” she had of the civil rights movement, as her parents marched for social justice – a central part of family discussions.

She wrote in her memoir that she was inspired to become a prosecutor in part because of the prosecutors who went after the Ku Klux Klan and because of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who sent Justice Department officials to protect the Freedom Riders in 1961.

But she had to defend to friends and family her decision to try to change from the inside, rather than the outside, a justice system they saw as too often offering injustice.

Democratic U.S. Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during an early voting mobilization event at the Central Florida Fairgrounds on October 19, 2020 in Orlando.

Prior record

Harris likes to tout a program she championed as district attorney to direct young people arrested for drug crimes into training and counseling programs instead of jail.

As California’s attorney general, she pushed for a tough settlement from five major banks accused of foreclosure abuse. One fellow attorney general who joined the fight was Delaware’s Beau Biden, the former vice president’s oldest son. The two developed a friendship before Beau Biden’s 2015 death from brain cancer.

After Harris joined the Senate in 2017, she put her prosecutorial skills to work grilling witnesses such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Attorney General William Barr and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“I thought she was the meanest, the most horrible, the most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate,” Trump said of Harris’ questioning of Kavanaugh.

Breaking barriers means breaking things

When Harris found herself competing for the Democratic presidential nomination with three of her female colleagues, the rivals enjoyed lighter moments on the campaign trail laughing with each other and comparing notes on the still-rare experience of being a woman running for president.

“We have spent a lot of time together, sharing looks at each other across a room when statements are being made,” giving each other a “knowing look” like “Yeah, that just happened,” Harris said during a fundraiser that included Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Klobuchar recounted how, during one debate, the women had banded together to demand the technicians raise the temperature in the freezing studio.

“I mean, like you couldn’t feel your feet,” Klobuchar said. “And on the break, we’re sitting there huddled together … and we said to the technician from NBC: `You know what? Women do worse when it’s so cold. This isn’t fair. You have got to turn this up, right now.’ And so they turned up the heat, as we did.”

Harris said that women who go first know the sacrifices they’ve made and hope to make it easier for women to come up after.

Breaking barriers, she said, involves breaking things.

“And when you break things, you might get cut. You might bleed. It will be painful,” she said more than once. “It will be worth it, every single time.”

 

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Joe Biden is the 46th President of the United States!

Joe Biden has won the bitterly fought 2020 presidential election, bringing the former vice president into an office he had coveted for nearly five decades and ending the chaotic presidency of Donald Trump.

The Electoral College may turn out to be tight: States that appeared relatively safe for Biden turned out to be close, and the result was not the landslide win some polls had projected as possible. The coalition of states Biden assembled included those that had previously gone for Trump, like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The drawn-out process put the nation on edge, and led Trump to falsely claim victory in several key states in the early morning hours following a long election night.

But in the popular vote, Biden won easily. He commanded the most votes cast for any candidate ever in a US presidential race, more than 73.5 million. And he defeated an incumbent who was wildly popular with his base — and who exasperated Democrats with a presidency built on racism, lies, and the appeasement of his own ego.

Trump’s time in office was marked by undermining public health measures during a pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 Americans, by weaponizing the functions of government against perceived opponents, and by boosting conspiracy theories and white supremacist groups. Much of Biden’s first months in office will be consumed by attempting to undo what Trump has done, with nothing more pressing than gaining control over the coronavirus.

Biden’s attempts to govern will almost certainly collide with a hard fact: Trump was defeated, but Trumpism was not. Biden ran his campaign on a central, existential argument that Trump represented an aberration in US politics, and that American voters want a moderate, steady hand to return the country to some semblance of normalcy. In short, Democrats wanted this election to resoundingly repudiate Trump and his politics.

That did not happen.

The tensions Trump inflamed and capitalized on were present in this country before he came to power, and those divisions remain strong. While the final vote tally won’t be known for some time, more than 68 million Americans voted for Trump. Many of those voters believe Biden and other Democrats are corrupt, empowered by fraud, and unfit to lead, and they will form a vocal and zealous opposition. Over the summer, the largest protests in American history centered on stopping police violence against Black people and rectifying systemic racism, proposals Trump and many of his followers rejected. Unifying such a divided country, or even mitigating the partisan hostility, will be one of Biden’s most daunting tasks.

What’s more, the control of the Senate is still unknown, with the possibility that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be able to continue exercising his ironclad rule. Early in his campaign, Biden leaned heavily into his years as a DC establishment figure and dealmaker, as a pragmatist with progressive ideals but bipartisan tendencies who would seek to work with McConnell, as he had when he was vice president. But, as many progressive Democrats pointed out, McConnell’s strategy when Barack Obama was president was to oppose virtually everything. There is no reason to think McConnell will act any differently now. And while resistance to the Democrats will make it relatively easy for McConnell to hold his ranks together, the deep splits between progressive and moderate Democrats could make it hard for Biden to keep his party unified.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden rallies supporters on November 3, 2020 in Philadelphia.

Although Trump will leave office, he probably won’t leave the field. He will still wield more than 85 million Twitter followers, hold sway over a Republican Party that has transformed to fit his image, and inspire millions who passionately feel he gives them a voice in a battle against the establishment — whether that means elites, government, or other institutions, including science. He will likely seize every opportunity to oppose and undermine Biden.

Still, Biden will be president of the United States, with all of the official power that Trump has now lost. He won a hard-fought campaign that was historic in a way that no one could have foreseen: COVID-19 forced sweeping closures of the basic functions of society and brought campaigning to a halt in March. Biden chose to follow public health guidelines while Trump went on with large rallies where attendees were not required to wear masks — and many indeed did not. It was a contrast that Trump, who last month was briefly hospitalized after being diagnosed with the coronavirus, hoped would make Biden look scared, weak, and unable to draw a crowd.

Biden, though, made Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic the central point of his campaign, hammering Trump for minimizing the danger early on and failing to control its spread. Biden gave expansive speeches about the crisis and what it would take to recover from it, and he modeled safe behavior by observing strict social distancing and wearing masks at all public events.

The nature of the campaign — distanced, impersonal — was unwelcome for Biden, who has built his career since the 1970s on intimate human connection and visceral emotion. His life and career have been shaped by grief, after his wife and daughter died in a car crash in 1972 and then his son Beau Biden died of cancer in 2015. While meeting voters on the pre-pandemic campaign trail during the Democratic primary, he spent time connecting with them over their own losses, sometimes consoling people as he took selfies with them. Then, as hundreds of thousands of Americans mourned loved ones who died from COVID-19, Biden was able to speak to their pain.

“There are moments in our history so grim, so heart-rending, that they’re forever fixed in each of our hearts as shared grief. Today is one of those moments,” Biden said in an address from his home in Delaware in May.

“I think I know how you’re feeling. You feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. It’s suffocating,” he said.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden after Sunday mass on November 1, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

Trump, meanwhile, repeatedly blamed the death toll and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the US on a media conspiracy and his Democratic opponents. He mocked wearing a mask as “politically correct.” It was after a largely maskless event to introduce Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the US Supreme Court that Trump and members of his inner circle contracted the virus and the president himself had to be hospitalized. In the final weeks of the campaign, the pandemic surged across the country, with cases rising in almost every state and the Midwest battleground region hit especially hard.

The two candidates often felt like they operated in alternate realities through the general election campaign. Biden emphasized the very real toll the pandemic took on people’s lives; Trump downplayed it, and emphasized the need to get the economy moving again. Biden spent months cordoned off at home and only emerged for small events; Trump held giant rallies as if nothing had changed, which in some cases likely led to coronavirus outbreaks. But both candidates, for almost all of the race, made the campaign about Trump. For Trump, it was the usual drive to be the center of attention and self-professed savior of the nation, occasionally referring to himself as “your favorite president” or comparing himself favorably to Abraham Lincoln. For Biden, it was a constant invocation of the president’s failures even beyond the coronavirus, from his refusal to unequivocally condemn the white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville in 2017 to his cozying up to foreign authoritarians. Biden invoked Charlottesville on day one of his campaign, arguing that he was leading a battle for the soul of the nation. That theme persisted, a catchall for the existential threat Biden said Trump posed, be it to America’s decency or health and safety.

But near the end of the race, Trump did try to turn the election on Biden’s character, with a frenzied campaign led by Rudy Giuliani to implicate Biden in an unclear nefarious plot in Ukraine and China with his son Hunter (there is no evidence that the claims were true). In their first debate, Trump raised Hunter’s history of drug addiction, a strategy which didn’t gain much traction beyond the far right. “My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people we know at home, had a drug problem,” Biden responded. “He’s overtaken it, he’s fixed it, he’s worked on it, and I’m proud of him.”

The second debate was canceled, when Trump refused to engage in a virtual debate after contracting the coronavirus. The third was less hectic but did little to change the dynamics of the race.

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images

President Barack Obama with Vice President Biden at the White House on December 19, 2012 in Washington, DC.

This was Biden’s third run for president, and while he was the national polling leader for almost the entirety of the race, the campaign still carried a feeling of improbability. His campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1988 ended in 1987, amid questions of plagiarism. His 2008 bid collapsed after a poor showing in the Iowa caucus, though he would go on that year to be elected vice president under Barack Obama, the first Black president.

Biden routinely attached his legacy to Obama’s in this year’s historically diverse field of Democratic candidates, which included more women and people of color than any previous primary. When Biden stumbled badly in Iowa’s caucuses and finished an embarrassing fifth in the New Hampshire primary, it looked like he might collapse again. But Biden and his advisers argued that the race would turn in his favor in South Carolina, where a majority of Democratic voters are Black — and they were right. Biden’s victory there triggered a mass clearing of the field, just as the coronavirus was beginning its spread in the US. An ideological battle between the moderate Biden and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders quickly flamed out, and Sanders promptly endorsed Biden, emerging as one of his more dependable surrogates.

Trump, during his four years in office, made a concerted effort to repeal legislation and regulations that defined the Obama administration: protections for trans and gender nonconforming children in schools and adults in the military, the DACA program for young people brought to the US as children, housing discrimination protections, and more.

How Biden, 77, will govern is a major question after a campaign so overtaken by both the pandemic and the current president. Before the pandemic, and before police shootings of Black men in Minneapolis and Kenosha, Wisconsin, Biden leaned heavily into reputation as a pragmatist more than a progressive. But as crises multiplied, Biden signaled he’d be more open to systemic and structural changes he never explicitly outlined.

Young progressive Americans for whom this summer’s protests were among the first defining political movements of their lives will be watching what Biden does as president to address insidious institutional racism, as well as crises such as climate change and gun violence.

“I don’t think Biden’s age has to necessarily be the limitation on him being a transformational leader, but it’s going to be up to the decisions he makes and those directing him make,” Chokwe Lumumba, the 37-year-old mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, told BuzzFeed News in June. “We can’t play it safe and assume the energy around Donald Trump will go away.” ●

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11 Marriage Truths From Divorce Attorneys

The best source for marriage advice? Divorce attorneys. Before you protest, just think about it: Every day at work they see the types of marital problems that lead otherwise happy couples to split up.

With that in mind, we recently asked 11 family law attorneys to volunteer their best love and relationship advice. See what they had to say below.

1. A sustainable marriage is not about love, it’s about tolerance.

“Can you tolerate all your partner’s quirks? Even the ones that you don’t like, are they tolerable? Don’t marry your partner thinking that any of his or her quirks are going to change, improve or wane. As we get older, your partner’s quirks will only magnify. So if you can’t tolerate it now, you for sure are not going to be able to tolerate it in the future. Tolerance may not be romantic, but it is the key to a long lasting marriage.” — Melissa B. Buchman, an attorney in Beverly Hills, California 

2. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. 

“Unfortunately, many couples I see going through a divorce ascribe bad — or sometimes terrible — motives to everything their spouses do. What is the harm in assuming or presuming the best? Even if you’re wrong, it hurts no one. And it may be the start of a better relationship.”  — Randall M. Kessler, an attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia

3. Don’t be afraid to feed your spouse’s ego now and then.

“Silly as it may sound, your spouse wants to feel strong, sexy and attractive. I have seen spouses cheat because someone else showed them attention and made them feel good.” — Christian Denmon, an attorney in Florida 

4. Put your spouse before your kids. 

“This may not be the most popular piece of advice, especially for parents, but after watching countless people get divorced because they allowed themselves to slowly drift apart over the years, I honestly believe it’s true. We are all busy these days. It’s far too easy to put your job, your house, your activities and your kids before your spouse. Don’t do it! While many people believe that their kids have to come first, if they don’t put their spouse first and their marriage eventually sours, it’s not going to be doing the kids any favors. If you value your marriage, choose to put it first.” — Karen Covy, an attorney and divorce coach based in Chicago, Illinois 

5. Don’t wait until it’s too late to work on your marriage.

“Work on your marriage while it’s still a good marriage, don’t wait until there’s a problem. ‘Work’ does not have to mean counseling, it can simply be having a set date night once a month.” — Carla Schiff Donnelly, an attorney based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

6. When you need to discuss something important, timing is everything.

“When making a request, decision, criticism or apology, it’s crucial to do it when and where your spouse is at their best: after working out, perhaps, or on Friday night, or after a glass of wine or early in the morning before the kids are up. Ask yourself: Is this really the most constructive setting for my partner to hear what I need to bring up? I marvel at stories from clients about how they tried accomplishing something regardless of their spouse’s readiness to receive it and how shocked and dismayed they were when they got rebuffed or ignored. Bringing stuff up on a Sunday night, for instance, when you know he or she gets the back-to-work blues — or right after work, when you’re both exhausted? Bad idea.”  — James Sexton, an attorney based in New York City

7. Know that you can’t change your partner.

“My piece of advice mirrors a quote from Maya Angelou: ‘When people show you who they are, believe them.’ In other words, many of us have this deep-seated desire to change our partners, especially women. This can manifest itself in actions like trying to get them to wear neutral colors instead of bold plaid shirts or attempting to change them from boring in bed to hot in the sheets. The bottom line is, we are who we are and either we accept it or go back on Match.com.” — Lisa Helfend Meyer, an attorney in Los Angeles, California

8. Love is about the little things.

“Marriage is work but worth the effort. Go on dates, speak one another’s love language and cherish the little things. Remember that love looks and feels very different as your relationship changes and evolves.” — Natalie Gregg, an attorney in Allen, Texas  

 

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Woman Arrested & Charged After Telling 911 Her ‘P*ssy’ Was ‘On Fire’

This is so crazy I had to post it!

A woman from Ohio was arrested and charged after she called 911 to say the emergency she was experiencing, was that her “p*ssy was on fire.”

Katrina Morgan, 50, placed the called to 911 late Saturday evening to report that her “p*ssy was on fire” and that she needed someone from the fire department to “put it out with their hose,” according to the arrest report.

Morgan then dropped the call, and when a police dispatcher called her back, she repeated the claim and asked for responders to “come put her p*ssy out because it is on fire.”

It should come as no surprise that reports say that Morgan also “appeared highly intoxicated” when cops arrived at her friend’s home in Lake Erie, that she smelled of booze and was “having trouble walking, was slurring her speech,” police noted.

Morgan was handcuffed and booked into the Ottawa County jail on multiple counts, including disrupting public service, a felony, and making false alarms and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.

And Ye SHALL BE henceforth known AS FIRE CROTCH ! - Gingers do ...

 

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Special Report: Prepare For The Ultimate Gaslighting

You are not crazy, my friends

*Gaslighting, if you don’t know the word, is defined as manipulation into doubting your own sanity; as in, Carl made Mary think she was crazy, even though she clearly caught him cheating. He gaslit her.

Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. (That never happened. What are you talking about?) Billions of dollars will be spent on advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms: a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy. In truth, you want the feeling of normalcy, and we all want it. We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee, and simply leave the house for work. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.

For the last hundred years, the multibillion-dollar advertising business has operated based on this cardinal principle: Find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product. When the problem is practical and tactical, the solution is “as seen on TV” and available at Home Depot. Command strips will save me from having to repaint. So will Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Elfa shelving will get rid of the mess in my closet. The Ring doorbell will let me see who’s on the porch if I can’t take my eyes off Netflix. But when the problem is emotional, the fix becomes a new staple in your life, and you become a lifelong loyalist. Coca-Cola makes you: happy. A Mercedes makes you: successful. Taking your kids to Disneyland makes you: proud. Smart marketers know how to highlight what brands can do for you to make your life easier. But brilliant marketers know how to rewire your heart. And, make no mistake, the heart is what has been most traumatized this last month. We are, as a society, now vulnerable in a whole new way.

What the trauma has shown us, though, cannot be unseen. A carless Los Angeles has clear blue skies as pollution has simply stopped. In a quiet New York, you can hear the birds chirp in the middle of Madison Avenue. Coyotes have been spotted on the Golden Gate Bridge. These are the postcard images of what the world might be like if we could find a way to have a less deadly daily effect on the planet. What’s not fit for a postcard are the other scenes we have witnessed: a health care system that cannot provide basic protective equipment for its frontline; small businesses — and very large ones — that do not have enough cash to pay their rent or workers, sending over 16 million people to seek unemployment benefits; a government that has so severely damaged the credibility of our media that 300 million people don’t know who to listen to for basic facts that can save their lives.

The cat is out of the bag. We, as a nation, have deeply disturbing problems. You’re right. That’s not news. They are problems we ignore every day, not because we’re terrible people or because we don’t care about fixing them, but because we don’t have time. Sorry, we have other shit to do. The plain truth is that no matter our ethnicity, religion, gender, political party (the list goes on), nor even our socioeconomic status, as Americans we share this: We are busy. We’re out and about hustling to make our own lives work. We have goals to meet and meetings to attend and mortgages to pay — all while the phone is ringing and the laptop is pinging. And when we get home, Crate and Barrel and Louis Vuitton and Andy Cohen make us feel just good enough to get up the next day and do it all over again. It is very easy to close your eyes to a problem when you barely have enough time to close them to sleep. The greatest misconception among us, which causes deep and painful social and political tension every day in this country, is that we somehow don’t care about each other. White people don’t care about the problems of black America. Men don’t care about women’s rights. Cops don’t care about the communities they serve. Humans don’t care about the environment. These couldn’t be further from the truth. We do care. We just don’t have the time to do anything about it. Maybe that’s just me. But maybe it’s you, too.

Well, the treadmill you’ve been on for decades just stopped. Bam! And that feeling you have right now is the same as if you’d been thrown off your Peloton bike and onto the ground: What in the holy fuck just happened? I hope you might consider this: What happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open. What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped. Here it is. We’re in it. Stores are closed. Restaurants are empty. Streets and six-lane highways are barren. Even the planet itself is rattling less (true story). And because it is rarer than rare, it has brought to light all of the beautiful and painful truths of how we live. And that feels weird. Really weird. Because it has… never… happened… before. If we want to create a better country and a better world for our kids, and if we want to make sure we are even sustainable as a nation and as a democracy, we have to pay attention to how we feel right now. I cannot speak for you, but I imagine you feel like I do: devastated, depressed, and heartbroken.

And what a perfect time for Best Buy and H&M and Wal-Mart to help me feel normal again. If I could just have the new iPhone in my hand, if I could rest my feet on a pillow of new Nikes, if I could drink a venti blonde vanilla latte or sip a Diet Coke, then this very dark feeling would go away. You think I’m kidding, that I’m being cute, that I’m denying the very obvious benefits of having a roaring economy. You’re right. Our way of life is not ruinous. The economy is not, at its core, evil. Brands and their products create millions of jobs. Like people — and most anything in life — there are brands that are responsible and ethical, and there are others that are not. They are all part of a system that keeps us living long and strong. We have lifted more humans out of poverty through the power of economics than any other civilization in history. Yes, without a doubt, Americanism is a force for good. It is not some villainous plot to wreak havoc and destroy the planet and all our souls along with it. I get it, and I agree. But its flaws have been laid bare for all to see. It doesn’t work for everyone. It’s responsible for great destruction. It is so unevenly distributed in its benefit that three men own more wealth than 150 million people. Its intentions have been perverted, and the protection it offers has disappeared. In fact, it’s been brought to its knees by one pangolin.

And so the onslaught is coming. Get ready, my friends. What is about to be unleashed on American society will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again. It will come from brands, it will come from government, it will even come from each other, and it will come from the left and from the right. We will do anything, spend anything, believe anything, just so we can take away how horribly uncomfortable all of this feels. And on top of that, just to turn the screw that much more, will be the one effort that’s even greater: the all-out blitz to make you believe you never saw what you saw. The air wasn’t really cleaner; those images were fake. The hospitals weren’t really a war zone; those stories were hyperbole. The numbers were not that high; the press is lying. You didn’t see people in masks standing in the rain risking their lives to vote. Not in America. You didn’t see the leader of the free world push an unproven miracle drug like a late-night infomercial salesman. That was a crisis update. You didn’t see homeless people dead on the street. You didn’t see inequality. You didn’t see indifference. You didn’t see utter failure of leadership and systems.

But you did. You are not crazy, my friends. And so we are about to be gaslit in a truly unprecedented way. It starts with a check for $1,200 (Don’t say I never gave you anything) and then it will be so big that it will be bigly. And it will be a one-two punch from both big business and the big White House — inextricably intertwined now more than ever and being led by, as our luck would have it, a Marketer in Chief. Business and government are about to band together to knock us unconscious again. It will be funded like no other operation in our lifetimes. It will be fast. It will be furious. And it will be overwhelming. The Great American Return to Normal is coming.

From one citizen to another, I beg of you: Take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud. We get to Marie Kondo the shit out of it all. We care deeply about one another. That is clear. That can be seen in every supportive Facebook post, in every meal dropped off for a neighbor, in every Zoom birthday party. We are a good people. And as a good people, we want to define — on our own terms — what this country looks like in five, 10, 50 years. This is our chance to do that, the biggest one we have ever gotten. And the best one we’ll ever get.

We can do that on a personal scale in our homes, in how we choose to spend our family time on nights and weekends, what we watch, what we listen to, what we eat, and what we choose to spend our dollars on and where. We can do it locally in our communities, in what organizations we support, what truths we tell, and what events we attend. And we can do it nationally in our government, in which leaders we vote in and to whom we give power. If we want cleaner air, we can make it happen. If we want to protect our doctors and nurses from the next virus — and protect all Americans — we can make it happen. If we want our neighbors and friends to earn a dignified income, we can make that happen. If we want millions of kids to be able to eat if suddenly their school is closed, we can make that happen. And, yes, if we just want to live a simpler life, we can make that happen, too. But only if we resist the massive gaslighting that is about to come. It’s on its way. Look out.

 

I’d love to hear your comments…

 

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Stay Positive: Here are 23 Pieces of Good News Regarding COVID-19

Trying to help…

Check out Number 23!

Headlines continuously read distressing news regarding the virus so we can all take advanced safety measures to protect not just ourselves, but also those around us.

Yet, there’s a handful of worldwide news doling out glimmers of hope in the midst of frightening times, and that’s important too.

So, we’ve rounded up all the good news about the virus worth catching up on.

Read on and click through the slideshow above for all the happy headlines we’re highlighting.

1. Of about 80,000 people sick from COVID-19 in China, more than 70% have recovered and been discharged from hospitals
Per the World Health Organization last week, “Of the 80,000 reported COVID-19 cases in China, more than 70% have recovered and been discharged.”

2. Scientists have figured out how the novel coronavirus breaks into human cells, which will help significantly in developing treatments
After scientists revealed the first picture of how the novel coronavirus binds with human respiratory cells to produce more viruses, researchers in China have solidified images all the way down to the level of the atoms at the binding points, according to Live Science. With this news, understanding how the virus enters cells will significantly aid researchers in finding drugs and vaccines to fight the virus.

3. Due to high levels of self-quarantine, Codogno, one of the two coronavirus clusters in Italy, has reported significantly fewer infections per day
Compared to 35 cases per day at the beginning of the outbreak, just five new infections were announced last week by Codogno’s mayor, Francesco Passerini, according to the U.S. News and World Report. “It is a war. It is a war, but we have every possibility of winning,” Passerini said. “Unlike with our grandfathers, who went physically into battle for our freedom, we are being required to show responsibility — responsibility and calm.”

4. Scientists in Canada have made massive breakthroughs in an effort to develop a vaccine
A team of Canadian scientists has finally isolated and grown copies of the coronavirus, which may now help scientists study the pathogen to develop better testing, treatments, vaccines, and gain a better understanding of its biology, the team said in a statement alongside the New York Post.

5. China is testing five different vaccine options, claiming it could have a vaccine ready by next month
Eight different institutes in China are working on five different inoculations to battle the novel coronavirus, according to the South China Morning Post. “According to our estimates, we are hopeful that in April some of the vaccines will enter clinical research or be of use in emergency situations,” said Zheng Zhongwei, director of the National Health Commission’s Science and Technology Development Center. While it’s true that it would take at least 12 to 18 months to provide a safe vaccine to general public, under Chinese law, they could be released sooner for urgent use in a major public health emergency, provided the benefits outweigh the risks, noted the New York Post.

6. Vaccination trials in the U.S. are already underway
A trial of Moderna’s vaccine has already kickstarted at Kaiser Permanente under Washington’s Health Research Institute in Seattle, of which will hopefully confirm the safety of the vaccine prior to mass production.

7. A team of infectious disease experts calculated the fatality rate of Wuhan’s coronavirus outbreak is about 1.4%, drastically lower than earlier estimates
While this estimate and data applies directly to Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus outbreak began, it offers a hopeful guide to the rest of the world as it notes significantly lower estimate of earlier stats around 3%. A full breakdown of the data can be found at Stat News.

8. Distilleries across the U.S. are making their own hand sanitizers and giving it away for free
Perhaps many Americans can calm down on the panic buying, as according to the Associated Press, distilleries across the country are using high-proof alcohol to make hand sanitizer, and divvying it out for free, or by donation to combat the novel coronavirus.

9. Air pollution has plummeted in cities with high numbers of quarantined individuals, Venice’s waters are running clear
Analysts from the Washington Post have noted a drastic decrease in major greenhouses gases over Europe as individuals self-quarantine and cars stay parked at home. While it’s little comfort to a country ravaged by the novel coronavirus, it highlights the impact humans can make on the environment. “I expect pollution to drop even further as the particles in the atmosphere get either dispersed or absorbed,” Emanuele Massetti, an expert on the economics of climate change at Georgia Tech University who has studied Italy’s climate policies, told the Washington Post. “In a few days, they will enjoy the cleanest air ever in northern Italy.”

10. A Johns Hopkins researcher has claimed antibodies from recovered coronavirus patients could help protect people at risk
A treatment that can be made readily available under urgent circumstances, a team from Johns Hopkins alongside many other researchers are studying whether or not the antibodies of those recovered from the coronavirus could help protect at-risk humans from the virus. “Deployment of this option requires no research or development,” immunologist Arturo Casadevall told Science Alert. “It could be deployed within a couple of weeks since it relies on standard blood-banking practices.” Not to mention, a Japanese pharmaceutical company is nearing approval of the treatment.

11. South Korea recoveries are starting to outnumber new infections
Facing the largest epidemic outside of China, South Korea reported more recoveries from the coronavirus than new infections on Friday for the first time since its outbreak emerged in January, as a downward trend in daily cases raised hopes that Asia’s biggest epidemic outside China may be slowing, according to India Today.

12. China is getting its feet back on the ground, opening parks and athletics, loosening travel restrictions
As the novel coronavirus comes under control in China, parks and tourist attractions have reopened across the country, alongside loosened travel restrictions. “The National Health Commission said on Thursday that the outbreak had passed its peak, and the figures appear to support its claim,” said the South China Morning Post. “On Friday, authorities in mainland China reported just 11 new Covid-19 cases, of which four were in Hubei.” According to ESPN, even professional basketball has reemerged  in Asia.

13. China has also closed its last coronavirus hospital, not enough new cases to support them
China has shut down all 16 temporary coronavirus hospitals in Wuhan as cases of coronavirus have began to dwindle. “The final group of 49 patients walked out of the Wuchang temporary hospital in the capital of Hubei province on Tuesday afternoon to cheers,” according to the Xinhua news agency.

14. Australian researchers are in the midst of testing two drugs as cures to the virus
Scientists in Australia claim to have identified how the body’s immune system fights the novel coronavirus. Published in Nature Medicine journal on Tuesday, the research shows people are recovering from the virus like they would from the flu. “This [discovery] is important because it is the first time where we are really understanding how our immune system fights novel coronavirus,” study co-author Prof Katherine Kedzierska told BBC News.

15. Numerous businesses have stepped up to solve the crisis
Restaurants, sports, and businesses are all stepping up to combat the community effects of the novel coronavirus. The sports world is raising money for stadium employeesUber Eats is divvying out free delivery to help independent restaurantsprofessional soccer players are entertaining viewers with a FIFA tournamentrestaurants are doling out free food to those in need, and Bill Gates is funneling out millions of dollars to speed up development of a coronavirus treatment, to name just a few out of dozens.

16. Apple, Starbucks reopening all stores in China
While stores and restaurants across the U.S. have closed up shop, both Apple and Starbucks have reopened all of their stores in China as the novel coronavirus spread slows across the country.

17. MetroHealthMedical Center has developed a coronavirus test that gives results in hours, not days
“MetroHealth Medical Center becomes the first hospital in the state that can now test COVID-19 samples at its laboratory with results available after just two hours,” released News 5 Cleveland. While supplies are limited, it notes a significant step toward expansive testing of the novel coronavirus.

18. Scientists in Israel have also noted the potential to annouce development of a coronavirus vaccine within weeks
Israeli scientists are nearing development of the first vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus, according to Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis. The vaccine could be ready within a few weeks and available in 90 days, according to a release.

19. A San Diego biotech company is developing a coronavirus vaccine in collaboration with Duke University and National University of Singapore
As the race to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus continues globally, the San Diego-based biotech company, Arcturus Therapeutics, is working on creating one at its lab. The company is working alongside Duke NUS-Medical School, a partnership between Duke University and the National University of Singapore. While developing a vaccine that works hasn’t yet proven impossible, “The major challenge with vaccines is the size of the dose and the feasibility of manufacturing,” President and CEO, Joseph Payne, told CBS8.

20. A Japanese flu drug has proven effective in treating the novel coronavirus
Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s science and technology ministry, said favipiravir, developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, had produced encouraging outcomes in clinical trials in Wuhan and Shenzhen involving 340 patients, according to The Guardian. “It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,” Zhang told reporters on Tuesday.

21. China has reported just one new domestic coronavirus infection for a second day in a row.
For the second consecutive day there was only one more fresh infection in Wuhan, the central city where the virus first emerged late last year,” said the National Health Commission. New cases in surrounding Hubei province have now been in the single digits for the past seven days, down from a peak of several thousand per day in early February, said Daily Mail.

22. Communities are coming together to help their neighbors
Neighbors across the country are stepping up to make grocery runs for those who can’t leave their homes. Local services have also reached out to the Seattle community to encourage those in need of help, to utilize the opportunities available to them.

23. A 103-year-old Chinese grandmother has made a full recovery from COVID-19
After being treated for less than a week, this grandma is going for the gold as the oldest coronavirus patient to recover in China, and motivating elderly across the globe to retain hope.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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How to Make a Date With an Escort over the Phone

Whether you’re feeling lonely or you need a date for a big event, there are a number of dating services you can call to request a companion for an evening. You might feel intimidated about making the first phone call, but think of it as any other date. Before you call, stay safe by researching the escort agency and the laws in your area. Then, be confident and straightforward while speaking to the escort to set up your date successfully.

Part1

Finding an Escort

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    Review local laws find out what services are legal in your area. Calling most escort services will not get you in trouble with the law. What does have the potential to get you in trouble is offering to pay for sexual contact, which is illegal in most countries. Anyone you call, even if they claim to represent an escort service, can get you in trouble by mentioning illicit activities.

    • Phone conversations are not illegal unless they involve offers to exchange money for illicit activities. As long as you don’t do this, you are allowed to have a phone conversation and even meet up with an escort.
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    Avoid calling an escort for selfish reasons like making someone jealous. Make sure an escort service is something you truly want and that you feel comfortable going through with the call. Escorts are people first, so they are not there for you to abuse or use to hurt someone else. They are professionals who make a living out of providing companionship to others.

    • Think of meeting an escort as a regular date. Many escorts do things like provide companionship through talking or eating dinner with you. They call this the girlfriend or boyfriend experience.
    • Respect the escort’s wishes if they aren’t able to accommodate your requests.
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    Look up agencies or ads online to verify their authenticity. Escorts often advertise on websites where classified ads are permitted. Depending on where you are in the world, you may see some ads out in public or in the back of small, alternative magazines. You should take the time to read the ad, get pertinent information such as customer reviews, then select which one you feel comfortable contacting.

    • A quick Internet search will direct you to the websites with classified ads and groups of people familiar with escorts. They can help you identify what you want out of an escort service and give you recommendations on how to proceed.
    • Many escorts also post ads on dating and companionship websites or apps. Be sure to research a person or agency before contacting them through these methods.
    • Keep in mind that high-end escorts often aren’t on review sites for privacy reasons. Look instead for a consistent online presence, such as in ads and on social media. The escort should have several authentic photos available.
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    Read the escort’s ad for prices and other terms of service. The information is there for a reason and can save you a lot of hassle during your call. Most escorts post the important information relating to their services directly in their ads. If the escort doesn’t have all their personal details, rates, rules, and instructions listed directly in their ad, they may include a link to their agency’s website displaying everything you need to know.

    • Some information to look out for is the times you can call, how much the service costs, and the escort’s characteristics.
    • It’s important to get on the same page as the person you’re calling. Reading up on the escort or agency can help you get a picture of who you’re talking to.
Part2

Calling an Escort Service

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    Calm yourself before you dial the number. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that this will be like any other date. Most escorts are professionals and won’t judge you for feeling nervous. Many people have that feeling before a date. The important part is to focus on what you need to say.

    • Express yourself. This is your date, after all. You may not have fun if you’re trying to be someone you’re not.
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    Be friendly no matter who you talk to. Put your best foot forward as soon as someone picks up the phone. Escort services get all sorts of callers who don’t respect the well-being of their employees. As professionals, they know how to handle these sorts of calls. If you’re rude, expect to get hung up on.

    • Being friendly includes taking a conversational tone with booking agents at agencies as well. They have the power to prevent you from reaching an escort you wish to speak with.
    • The escort or booking agent should be friendly as well. If they seem rude or questionable, you may be better off going somewhere else. Make sure you trust them before you do business with them.
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    Ask for the escort you chose after someone answers the phone. You can simply say, “Hi, my name is (your name). Is (escort’s name) there?” You may end up talking to a booking agent before you reach the person you intended. Expect this to happen if you call an agency.

    • Booking agents are there to screen calls and set up schedules. If you have any questions about escorts or the agencies, take the time to ask them.
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    Tell the escort or agency that you would like to make an appointment. Saying something like “What’s up?” isn’t appropriate. Talk to the escort or agent like you would any other professional service. If you remember where you saw the escort’s ad, mention it as well to start the conversation.

    • Try to be straightforward with what you want. The escort or their agency experience all sorts of calls. They want to get a clear representation of who you are as a customer to avoid problems.
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    Avoid using code words or asking about possible illicit activities. Read between the lines of the ad. Smart escorts will not answer questions about explicit acts or payment for them. Most people will hang up on you as soon as you stray into that territory. Use the ad as guidance for what the escort is willing to do.

    • Trying to argue or bribe an escort or their agency won’t work. They don’t want to get arrested or risk meeting up with a bad customer
Part3

Scheduling an Escort

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    Set a time the escort can come and meet you. Avoid making the escort or agency choose when you should meet up. They don’t know your schedule. Pick a time you feel safe meeting up and discuss it with the person you are talking to. If they can accommodate you, they will agree to the time.

    • For example, ask, “Can you meet me in the lobby of The Overlook at 8:00 PM tonight?”
    • You may need to negotiate on the time frame a bit. The escort may not be available at your preferred time. They will suggest the closest time that works for them. If you can’t come to an agreement, you can set an appointment with someone else.
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    Give the escort your name, phone number, and address. Use your real name! Most escorts or agencies will try to research you online in order to verify that you are not a threat. You don’t have to use your home address, but you do need to pick a safe location to meet up. Give your real phone number in case the escort needs to get in touch with you.

    • A safe location can be your hotel room number, the hotel’s lobby, or a public place like a restaurant.
    • The escort won’t agree to meet up unless they feel comfortable doing so. Make sure you also feel comfortable with the location you set.
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    Explain where you plan on going during the date. Be clear on your plans if the escort or agency asks for them. Most escorts rely on having a specific schedule. This schedule can be as elaborate as you want as long as you pay for enough time and the escort agrees to it. You might go out to dinner together or stay in and talk over drinks, for instance.

    • For example, you might say, “We will be going to the restaurant at 8:30 PM.”
    • Escorts need to know the time and place of a date for their own safety, so don’t take it personally.
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    Settle on a payment for the date. Since this is a business transaction, you should come to a pricing agreement before finalizing the arrangement. Ask the escort or agency for the price of a date if they don’t tell you themselves. Most will charge by the hour. Haggling is usually frowned upon, so avoid it as much as possible.

    • Be clear about your schedule for the date so you can come to a price agreement. You may be forced to pay more if the date goes on longer than you anticipated.
Part4

Meeting Your Date

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    Clean yourself and dress up before your date. You would never show up to a date with gnarly fingernails, unruly hair, body odor, and a ripped T-shirt. Treat this date like you would any other. Take a shower, put on deodorant, and groom yourself. You don’t have to dress fancy, but you should look presentable.

    • For example, a clean pair of jeans and a T-shirt are appropriate for most casual dates. If you go somewhere nice, such as a fancy restaurant, adjust your outfit to match what you expect others to wear.
    • All you have to do is put your best foot forward. Professional escorts won’t make fun of you and appreciate when customers follow basic social conventions like proper hygiene.
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    Leave the money in a white envelope on the table. Most escorts cannot accept a bank or credit card. Go to an ATM ahead of time to withdraw the payment you and the escort agreed upon. Put it in an accessible location, such as on a table, when you meet up.

    • The escort will take time to count the money and verify its authenticity. Don’t be offended by this. They have to protect themselves from customers who try to scam them.
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    Cancel the appointment if you change your mind. Call the escort or the agency right away. As long as you explain your reasoning politely and apologize, they will understand. If the escort already went to meet you, remember that they invested time and money preparing and traveling. Consider giving them a tip for the trouble.

    • Avoid stiffing them on the bill. You wouldn’t like being treated that way at work. If you cancel at the last minute, pay for at least the first half hour and travel expenses.
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    Avoid going on the date if it isn’t what you agreed to. If an agency sends the wrong escort or the escort isn’t what their ad promised, you should not go on a date. Hold the escort or their agency accountable for the mistake. You do not need to pay for the service. If the escort or their agency pressures you, refuse and walk away.

    • The escort service should be what you agreed to on the phone. Never feel pressured to accept a service you don’t want.
    • Keep in mind that if you decide to go through with the date, you have to pay for it even if it wasn’t what you originally wanted.

     

 

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‘The Pickup Artist’ Goes Inside the Sleazy World of Men Who Try to Manipulate Women into Bed

A concise disclaimer runs at the beginning of the new documentary The Pickup Game, premiering in New York on Nov. 8. “This documentary includes a number of ‘pickup’ techniques and strategies,” it reads. “These have been included for discussion and illustrative purposes only. The Producers and their affiliates do not endorse or approve of these messages in any way.”

The Pickup Game is based on the controversial bestselling book by Neil Strauss called The Game. The book exposed the underground pickup industry that grew from confidence-building dating tutorials into a network of companies rooted in misogyny and led by “alpha-male instructors” promising to teach men how to trick women into sleeping with them. It is exactly as nauseating as it sounds.

Directed by Matthew and Barnaby O’Connor, The Pickup Game features footage from pickup “bootcamps,” hidden camera clips of “artists” testing out their techniques on real women, and interviews with famous pickup instructors such as Paul Janka and Erik Von Markovik. The latter, who goes by the alias “Mystery,” proudly demonstrates that when you ask Siri to show you a picture of a pickup artist, his is the first image to come up.

The “techniques and strategies” detailed in the 96-minute film are essentially a set of manipulative conversational tricks that are commonly practiced in the pickup community, like a memorized “opener” to start a conversation with a stranger and “negging,” or giving a woman a backhanded compliment. Inhabitants of this little-known world communicate in an entirely foreign language, one of abbreviations and acronyms designed to make predatory behavior sound academic, like some kind of pervy pseudo-psychology.

On top of openers and negging, there is also “DHV,” which means “demonstration of higher value” and refers to the way an insecure pickup “student” might imitate what he perceives to be the behavior of a “higher status” male. “Approach anxiety” is the cutesy nickname for when a man is uncomfortable with the idea of approaching and immediately becoming physical with a stranger on the street. Rather than a totally normal response to an unnatural social situation, this is considered a sign of weakness that men must overcome if they ever want to have sex.

And then there is the “false time constraint” method in which a pickup artist (I shudder every time I have to refer to these sleazeballs as “artists”) tells a woman he only has a few minutes to talk before he needs to be somewhere else, easing the awkwardness of conversing with a complete stranger and making his target feel less cornered. This technique is more commonly known as lying.

The point of exposing all of this is not to offer women a cautionary guide to the kind of sneaky tricks any man might effectively deploy (though it is probably worth the watch for the five remaining unjaded women in the world who genuinely believe the men who hit on them at bars have their best interests in mind). Instead, the film argues that the multimillion-dollar pickup industry thrives not because the insane methods preached at $3,000 bootcamps actually work, but largely because of marketing scams.

An anonymous former marketing expert for the industry, who goes by the pseudonym Michael M., describes how the hidden camera videos instructors use as proof of their success in the field are misleadingly edited. Often for every shot of a successful pickup, there are 95 unused shots of the instructor striking out, Michael M. explains.

Some companies will cheat the system further by hiring actresses to pretend to be the targets in promotional videos, or even recruiting escorts to engage with students at boot camps, creating the false impression that their newly acquired knowledge was worth the hefty price tag. Once the students believe their pickup education is working, they are willing to shell out more cash for other programs.

Still, The Pickup Game could have and probably should have been more emphatic in its condemnation of the dark implications of this coercive, misogynistic industry. Only in its final 20 minutes does the documentary grapple with the sexual violence inevitable in a practice led by men like Bruce Roth, a New York-based dating instructor who told a room full of students that he likes dating Asian women because they are “obedient, good little dogs” and Julien Blanc, dubbed the “most hated man in the world” for tweeting things like “Man, I will teach you how to ‘shatter’ her lack of consent. Pay me and rape them all.”

The film’s final act details a horrifying 2016 rape case that resulted in three members of the online pickup artist community—Alex Smith and Jonas Dick, instructors working for the Efficient Pickup company, and Jason Berlin, a student—each being sentenced to eight years in prison. The men had documented the details of their gang rape of a heavily intoxicated, barely conscious woman in disturbing blog posts. According to the film and the blog posts, the men were laughing during and after the attack. “This is fucking hilarious,” Berlin wrote.

It’s surprisingly easy to grow desensitized to guys with terrible facial hair blatantly objectifying women for an hour and a half. And it is also tempting to dismiss the men onscreen as pathetic and embarrassing, even to laugh at them. A whole separate article could be written about the cringe-worthy, telling fashion choices the men in the pickup community make. An open black magician’s vest over a white button-down shirt? Sure. Fedora and matching nail polish? Why not. Teeny, tiny man-bun? Practically a pickup artist requirement.

But the reality is that the pickup game is about something far more sinister than sad men who are afraid of rejection; it is an industry built on blurring the lines of consent. The Pickup Game could have done more to remind us of that.

 

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Harvey Weinstein Charged with Rape

Got him!

Shortly after the first day of Harvey Weinstein’s New York sex crimes trial concluded, the disgraced movie mogul was indicted in Los Angeles on similar charges. 

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced Monday that Weinstein has been charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013. 

Weinstein was charged with one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint.

An arraignment will be scheduled for a later date.

“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” Lacey said in a statement. “I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them. It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward.”

On Feb. 18, 2013, Weinstein allegedly went to a hotel and raped a woman after pushing his way inside her room.

The next evening, the defendant is accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a hotel suite in Beverly Hills.

Prosecutors are recommending bail be set at $5 million. If convicted, Weinstein faces up to 28 years in state prison.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, which has been reviewing allegations presented against Weinstein by local police agencies for nearly two years, said ahead of Christmas it had eight such cases pending before its task force of specially trained deputy district attorneys.

Weinstein, who was indicted in May 2018 in Manhattan, has been charged with five sex crimes, including rape and predatory assault, involving two women in encounters dating to 2006 and 2013. His New York trial began Monday. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Harvey Weinstein charged with rape, sexual battery in Los Angeles over 2013 allegations.

 

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