Things are different at the convent.
(H/T: Silas/ Presentation Sisters Convent, St. John’s, NL.)
Disturbing but brilliant, I should say. Here, Lena Dunham teams up with fashion designer pal Rachel Antonoff to produce a short “nature documentary” about best friends, starring Dunham’s sister, and narrated by Adam Driver.* [Video link]
[For some reason, the embed code for this video resists resizing, but you can click the ‘view full screen’ icon at the bottom.]
* No money shot warning required.
Late last week, Halifax musician Robert Speirs fired off an angry email to three broadcast networks:
Why did you divulge the names of the men accused of luring?
What if they are innocent?
Why do you want to try them by media and subject them to public humiliation, [and] so ruin their lives? Why do you display such unjustified hatred to people you do not know?
Again, what if they are innocent?
Your insistence on revealing the identities of the accused inspires any thinking person to wonder who are the true perverts. Shame on you!
Speirs, who signed the note, “Disgusted,” was referring to a sting operation by the Halifax Regional Police/RCMP Integrated Internet Child Exploitation Unit, which goes by the chilling anagram, ICE. The ICE cops arrested five men for “luring a child online,” after hoodwinking them into believing an undercover officer who bombarded them with messages was actually a 16-year-old girl eager to trade sex for money.
No child prostitute was harmed in the fabrication of this crime. But a group of men who may or may not have impulses we may or may not disapprove of have been publicly shamed in way that seems certain to wreak havoc on their lives, and probably the lives of others.
I won’t link to the news stories, which named the men and their home towns, because I’m no more comfortable with public shaming of accused persons than Speirs, although I do sympathize with decision-makers in mainstream newsrooms, who would be starting down a slippery slope if they began picking and choosing which accused persons to ID.
I’m more troubled by police departments who spend time and money creating bogus crimes into which they attempt to inveigle citizens. Whether the accused men were guilty of luring I have no idea, but clearly the police were.
In a news release, HRM Police spokesman Cst. Pierre Bourdages said the operation resulted from “a noted increase in the amount of young women engaged in online prostitution.”
How big an increase? Noted by whom? On what evidence? When I hear off-the-cuff police comments about the prevalence of crime, I’m reminded of the old saw that you shouldn’t ask your barber if you need a haircut.
If there exists a significant increase in prostitution by women under the age of 18 (after which, trading sex for money is no longer illegal), then why the need to fabricate transactions? Why not bust clients who are actually engaged in actual crimes?
Rene Ross, executive director of Stepping Stone, a Halifax organization that provides support services to people involved in the sex trade, is skeptical of any claimed increase in youthful sex trade.
“How can you tell,” she asks, “especially on the internet?”
The great majority of sex trade workers Ross deals with are in their 20s and 30s. Ironically, the Criminal Code ban on prostitution by persons under 18 prevents Stepping Stone from providing services to younger people who trade sex for money—even real ones.
Ross is unequivocal that, “men should not be trying to have sex with 16 years olds.” The subject, she says, “evokes a lot of feelings and emotions, it tugs at your heart strings, but it’s missing a lot of analysis.”
Early in her career with Stepping Stone, Ross told a Parliamentary Committee that Canada should come down harder on clients and johns.
“That’s one statement I wish I would take back,” she said in a phone conversation with Contrarian. “Sex workers are criminalized by those crackdowns.”
“It’s never the Steven Laffins they catch,” she said, referring to the Dartmouth man accused of murdering one sex trade worker, and kidnapping and beating another who managed to escape from the trunk of his car. “It’s the guy who wanted to get out and get off while the wife was at bingo.”
We may approve or disapprove of the guy who wants to get out and get off while his wife is at bingo, but devoting massive police effort to criminalizing him—including make-believe victims, fabricated crimes, and public shaming of citizens who are supposed to be presumed innocent—seems a dubious allocation of police resources.
“When you start working from the perspective of morality, that’s your shit,” said Ross. “You’re not doing anybody any service.”
Last year, we published a snapshot of Contrarian’s brain as he listened to Costas Halavrasos on Maritime Noon. Psychobiologist Barry R. Komisaruk of Rutger’s University in New Jersey has done me one better, by releasing a stop motion animation showing sequential MRI brain scans of 54-year-old PhD student and sex therapist Nan Wise as she manually stimulated herself to orgasm.
It is not known whether Wise was listening to Halavrasos at the time.
The first portion of the video shows a sequence of 20 snapshot fMRI images, taken over a 12 minute period, during which Wise approached orgasm, achieved orgasm, and entered a refractory period.
The scan detects oxygen levels in the blood that reflect the varying activity in 80 different regions of the brain. The animation uses a “hot metal” colour scale, beginning with dark red (low activity) and progressing through orange and yellow to white (highest activity).
H/T: Vicky Salazar
Remember the kerfuffle when the Province of Nova Scotia’s official sex guide for seventh graders, called Sex? A Healthy Sexuality Resource, was unveiled in 2004? Some school boards refused to distribute the guide because, of course, knowledge encourages teen sex and ignorance prevent it. That’s the guide’s chaste cover, at right.
Want to know how a sensible country does sex education? Check out this sex ed kit for kids of comparable age in a European country. From the outside, the kit looks like this:
The sensible country is Finland. Click here for a translation of the news story describing it. The paper expected a huge backlash, but as a subsequent story reported, of the 6,500 comments they received, 75 percent were favorable.
H/T: James Fallows
Contrarian finds itself in the awkward position of having received 30,000+ hits for a throwaway post about an MP who airbrushed* a modest trace of cleavage from her official Parliamentary photo. The two complaints I’ve received have not dissuaded me from my initial judgment the story was both funny and peculiar enough to be worthy of posting. In the interests of equal time, though, here is an alternative view from Edmonton restaurateur and local food activist Jessie Radies:
The only reason you find someone airbrushing their cleavage funny, is because you are not a women with cleavage.
I’ve done exactly the same thing. Go for a photo shoot, get the pictures and then realize, “Oh, I love this picture but it has too much cleavage and it is not appropriate for a business head shot.” And have the photographer retouch the picture.
I bet it had nothing to do with Tamil culture or modesty. It is a professional making a decision about how she wants to be presented and what is appropriate.
(Radies supplied the photo shown here, the airbrushed image she describes in her comment. She no longer has the ‘before’ picture.)
I’m happy to close this thread now.
* MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan isn’t saying, but the evidence seems to be that she or her staff ordered the retouching.
The Globe and Mail says Scarborough-Rouge River MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan, 29, might be “the most compelling of the new crop of young NDP MPs.”
She’s the first Tamil-Canadian MP, and so has become the de facto standard-bearer for thousands of Canadians who have felt defeated – militarily, in their country of birth, and politically, in their new home. As a 29-year-old woman from political cultures – both Canadian and Sri Lankan – in which older men make most of the decisions, she exudes the poise, organizing skills and confidence of an old-school political veteran.
How awkward for Contrarian, then, to report alert reader Mark Austin’s discovery of an evident cover-up concerning the estimable Ms. Sitsabaiesan (pronounced SITS-a-bye-EE-sin, according to the Globe). Driven by what we are certain was only the purest of citizenly motives, Mr. Austin carried out a Google image search of the compelling Parliamentarian and stumbled upon the thumbnail at right.
Seeking further edification, he clicked through to the underlying webpage source of the image, which turned out to be Ms. Sitsabaiesan’s official online Parliamentary profile. There he found the image at left, close inspection of which reveals — how to put this delicately? — certain modification.
The Google thumbnail that connected to the official Parliamentary page now seems to have disappeared from Google’s image search results, leading us to conclude that Mr. Austin’s search occurred in the brief interval before Google’s image search caught up with a change in the underlying page. A similar thumbnail, however, still cleaves to MP Sitsabaiesan’s page at the open-source OpenParliament.ca website, which credits the image as “House of Commons photo.”
This persuades us that the photo on the official website of Parliament must have originally appeared in the (please forgive us) cloven version, only to fall under the Parliamentary PhotoShopster’s digital airbrush. This makes us wonder whether the bowdlerization took place on request from the NDP caucus, from MP Sitsabaiesan’s office, or on the Parliamentary website’s own authority.
In any case, Mr. Austin puts the entire question into healthy perspective:
[T]he anomalies of the last federal election have resulted in greater youth and diversity than ever in the House. Let’s hope it injects new life.
Salon sex columnist Tracy Clark-Flory clucks disapprovingly at what she deems excessive media coverage of that award-winning New Mexico state trooper busted on security cam having sex on duty and in uniform with a woman splayed across the hood of her Honda.
Contrarian takes a different view. You cannot spend as much time in newsrooms as we have without developing a grudging admiration for the comic extremes of tabloid chutzpah. We particularly admire the Hispanic-oriented, Chicago-based website Hispanically Speaking News for shining a spotlight on the small but curious dog that wandered in for a closer look at the steamy curbside quickie, and for linking both cop and pooch to its core demographic.
The story’s lede and photo illustration evinced similarly admirable attention to detail:
As a thoughtful bonus, Hispanically Speaking News provided a (possibly NSW) animated gif of the carnal canine-cop caper.
Since the debate, we’ve kept an eye on searches for the five party leaders, using the Google Trends tool that famously notices ‘flu outbreaks before the Centres for Disease control. (Previous examples here and here.) Extreme caution is required, but look what happened to Jack Layton yesterday.
On its face, this means a lot of interest in Jack. I assume that’s mainly a result of the found-in story, but a friend argues otherwise:
[I]ndications from previous elections (check 2008) seem to suggest [it reflects] popularity as well, though I don’t know why. It’s quite a spike, though.
It is quite a spike, and quite a leap to assume it reflects an increase in popularity, given that it occurred in the 24 hours after the campaign took a salacious incoming missile. Still, it’s intriguing—and noteworthy that Layton searches have consistently outpaced those for Harper, which consistently outpace those for Ignatieff, May, and Duceppe. Searches for Iggy and Harper remained flat yesterday.