Web sites let online lives outlast the dearly departed

I’ve thought of this several times lately. How do my cyberspace friends know that I have passed on? This and more is discussed in the article below. Sobering but comforting. ~ZoomZoom

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 25, 2010

Heather Pierce of the District uses one of the many Web sites designed to make sure that her online social networking and financial accounts will be accessible to her family after she dies. Some of those Web sites also will let her write e-mails that would be sent upon her death. (Bill O'leary/the Washington Post)

Heather Pierce lives in Glover Park, but much of her life floats in the cloud.

Her e-mail is stored in that vast digital space, bouncing between Yahoo server farms. Her bank statements reside there, too, along with her mortgage payments, credit card files, movie rental account, library book list, home videos and hundreds of photos — on Shutterfly, Facebook and her blog. She has only a few hard-copy photos of her 17-month-old daughter.

If Pierce’s house caught fire, what would she dash in to save? Not much, probably. “All of that important stuff is online now,” she said. “That’s where our lives are.”

Which is why Pierce, 38, recently paid $29.99 to sign up for a year’s access to yet another account in the cloud — one that stores all her passwords and log-in information and, when the worst happens, will be accessible to whomever she designates as digital executor. On its Web site, under serene pictures of clouds against a deep blue sky, the company calls its service “a digital safety deposit box.”

Pierce’s backup service, San Francisco-based Legacy Locker, is one of a dozen businesses that have sprung up to help denizens of the digital world grapple with the thorny issues raised after your physical being leaves behind only its virtual reality. Internet experts and estate planners say a cybercrisis is brewing because popular Internet services have policies that, barring an order from a court, forbid accessing or transferring accounts — including recovering money — unless someone has the password.

The legal fog affects not only personal lives — the photo site Flickr has 40 million members — but also millions of business accounts on such sites as eBay and PayPal and the virtual community of Second Life, which generated $55 million of real money for users last year. Despite our increasing reliance on cloud computing — storing all sorts of data online through Web applications — very few Internet users have begun to think about what happens to all that data should we get hit by a bus.

“We haven’t truly seen the breadth of this issue play out yet, but I’m telling you, this is a huge problem,” said Chicago lawyer Karin C. Prangley, who has spoken on the topic at conferences. “Ten or 15 years ago, someone could go into your house and find the paper trail if you die. Now the paper trail is online.”

Beyond-the-grave e-mails

Naturally, so are the proposed solutions. The dot-coms occupying the new digital beyond run the gamut from pure password-storage sites like Legacy Locker — a competitor in Switzerland promises a “Swiss bank” for assets — to such start-ups as Bcelebrated.com, which helps users create online memorials that go live after they die and e-mails to be sent from the grave. It is now possible to essentially hit “send,” from six feet under, on an e-mail confessing to chopping down the cherry tree.

But the e-mails also serve another purpose, particularly as relationships stretch as wide as the cloud that nurtures them. The traditional rites and legal procedures that follow death are geared to friends and family in the physical world, but businesses are cropping up to also serve the new universe of friends, those on chat boards or on Facebook. How will, say, 700 of your Twitter followers find out about your death if you can’t log in to tell them?

“Back in the day, we never moved far from home, and people could read about our deaths in the obit column,” said Debra Joy, founder of Bcelebrated.com. “But now we move around, we have friends around the world that we connect with on the Internet. We need to reach them somehow.”

Are you ‘still alive’?

The new sites, with such names as DataInherit, Entrustet, Parting Wishes, VitalLock, My Last Email and If I Die, deliver the bad news in novel ways. With Deathswitch.com, if users don’t respond to regular e-mails to confirm that they are still alive, the site gets increasingly worried about them, sending notes that nearly beg for a reply: “Please log on using the link below to demonstrate that you are still alive.” If users don’t respond within a set period of time, “postmortem” e-mails stored in their account are delivered.

The missives could be basic information, such as e-mail passwords sent to a girlfriend or banking data to relatives — or more emotionally explosive notes that tell a spouse or friend what couldn’t be said during life.

“It’s really important for someone to know all of this information we have out there,” said Gary Altman, a Rockville estate lawyer who asks his clients to arrange to give passwords to family members. “Everything is hidden in the clouds. If no one knows it’s there or where to get it, how are you going to find it?”

Pierce learned this lesson the hard way. Her sister-in-law died suddenly last year, and as the family was grieving, the woman’s husband realized that decisions needed to be made about her swimming-lesson business. But nobody knew her passwords to e-mail accounts or other sites. The relatives guessed. They guessed some more. Finally, after more than a week, they were able to get in.

“This awful tragedy was compounded by the fact that nobody knew her passwords,” Pierce said.

Service providers offer varying degrees of helpfulness in such situations.

Some, like Google, will unlock e-mail, video, photo and shopping accounts if family members have a death certificate and a previous e-mail sent to them by the departed. The process can take a while. Facebook will close accounts if hoops are jumped through; otherwise, the account goes into “memorial” mode, meaning it’s still out there but most features are disabled.

Other providers are more stringent. Second Life will not transfer an account unless there is a will, court order or other relevant legal documents. Yahoo, with 106 million e-mail users, is perhaps the toughest. In a statement, the company said, “Internet users who want to be sure their e-mail and other online accounts are accessible to their legal heirs may want to work with their attorneys to plan an offline process for such access as part of their estate planning process.”

Similar rules apply to the firm’s popular photo-sharing site, Flickr. Asked whether pictures would remain online unless the user leaves other instructions in a will or gives the password to someone else, a Yahoo spokeswoman said, “Yes, that is correct.”

For many, like Pierce, having loved ones locked out of her accounts is a scary prospect. A month ago, when a friend sent her a link to Legacy Locker, she signed up. The site asks for two verifiers who would be contacted to confirm a death. Pierce chose her husband and her best friend, who then received e-mails checking to see whether they were willing to “help oversee the distribution of Heather Pierce’s digital assets.”As those e-mails zoomed through the cloud, Pierce saw a colorful page where she could list her online accounts and name beneficiaries.

Extra security

The process is no more difficult than signing up for an e-mail account but has an extra dose of security, said the company’s founder, 36-year-old San Francisco entrepreneur Jeremy Toeman. The site is so encrypted, he said, that even he can’t see user information. “I’m the opposite of Google,” he said. “I know absolutely nothing about my customers.”

He does know that more than 10,000 people have signed up. He expects many more.

“We’re in an era now where people are really going to have to pay attention to what their online assets are,” Toeman said. “Five years ago, that terminology — digital assets — didn’t even make sense. Now it does.”



Will you live to 120?

Thanks to advances in healthcare and genetic research, 60 may be the new middle age for women. We all need to adapt

January 14, 2010
By Linda Duberley

Somewhere among us is a 60-year-old woman who has just started drawing her pension. She has also applied for her bus pass, and in all likelihood renewed several subscriptions to fashion magazines. She has at least two children and several grandchildren. And here’s the good news: she’s only halfway through her life, and she could be you.

News that scientists have discovered a gene that is known to treble your odds of living to 100 and may help you to ward off Alzheimer’s merely adds weight to a wealth of research that states that women especially have a high chance of living until they are well over 100 years old.

It is estimated that one in six women in the UK is now a pensioner. According to Nigel Barlow, head of research at the life assurance company Just Retirement, soon that number will increase to one in four and by the end of the decade one in three.

“If we think that the UK high street is likely to be swamped with women pushing their trolleys home for an early tea, we need to think again,” he says. “These women bear no relation to our preconceived idea of female pensioners. They are exceptional super-grandmothers. There are instances of women applying for motorcycle licences and participating in charity parachute jumps in their eighties.”

What we have not taken on board, Barlow continues, is that such women will become the norm. “We need to review what we regard as middle age,” he says. “The idea that 60 signals the start of a less active, less vibrant and less productive life is now nonsense.”

His view is shared by the author and futurist Patrick Dixon, who goes even farther. “Our knowledge about healthcare is doubling every year. In the five years between 2045 and 2050, there are likely to be more advances than we have seen in the past 25 years. It would be unthinkable that by the time a potential 120-year-old woman has lived another 30 years beyond her current age of 65, she won’t see extra life expectancy of at least five years.”

Advertisers, retailers and crucially the Government cannot afford to ignore this group, says Barlow: “After all, as someone said recently, they have the money. Correction, they have all the money.”

In an age when the film industry, television, the corporate world and even politicians are busy trying to pretend that the 50-year-old woman does not exist, plenty of women are happily going about their business, at 60, caring for their grandchildren and fitting in a Pilates session before buying a frock with their daughter at Comptoir des Cotonniers. Why not? They have may another five decades.

Ironically, the fashion industry — known for its love of youth — illustrates this trend best. Carine Roitfeld, 55, the legendary editor of French Vogue, is a muse for most of the UK’s high street brands. As is the American Vogue Editor Anna Wintour, 60, and her invaluable lieutenant, Grace Coddington, 67, who graced our screens last year in The September Issue, at the height of their powers.

Joan Burstein, the owner of Brown’s boutique, whose buying sense is unrivalled, is 85. And her niece Laurel Herman, 63, is one of our leading image consultants. “You cannot ignore the buying power or indeed the determination of so-called older women,” says Laurel. “We don’t want to go quietly into the night. If I feel like wearing Dolce & Gabbana to a cocktail party, then I will. So would my mother, and she is 87.”

But does everything look as good in the garden of longevity as it seems? It certainly looks a lot better than it did 30 years ago, when the worst figures for depression and related mental illnesses were for women entering their middle years.

Experts say that women will only make the most of this extra lease of life if they stay healthy enough to earn money for longer and they manage their savings with close attention. In part, this is because they can expect to be living on their own in their later years.

Many potentially fatal illnesses that largely affect women, such as breast cancer, can now be detected early by effective screening. According to Professor Thomas Kirkwood, director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, the overall reason why we are living longer is that the improved conditions of life mean that we reach old age with fewer accumulated faults in our cells.

“That women live longer than men appears to be deeply rooted in biology,” he says. “There is some evidence that female cells are better protected against this accumulation of faults than men. There are evolutionary reasons why this should be so, because the maintenance of the female body plays such a central role in our reproductive process.”

It is also thought that the male hormone testosterone gives rise to a raft of killer conditions — principally heart disease. According to medical experts, once men have suffered heart disease they are more predisposed to vascular dementia and a range of other diseases. The hormone that, in a different age, would have given men the instinct and drive to succeed may now be the one that will drive them to death.

“Women are naturally sociable,” adds Barlow. “They feel a sense of connection and it leaves them feeling happy and positive. This is undoubtedly a factor in their health and wellbeing as they get older. They are better able to manage the transition into the final stages of their lives. Men develop a social life too, but it is often through their work. Once their work stops, they stop too.”

Professor George Magnus, a senior economic adviser at UBS, believes that “the figure of 120 years is in the right kind of ball park. But although this sounds very positive, it raises all sorts of questions about what quality of life these women will have.

“We have to get more women to stay at work or go back to work after having families. There are two groups of people who are underemployed. They are women and the over-55s. Women over 55 are doubly disadvantaged. As they get older they are subject to living on their own. Women need to know that they can look after themselves. People have to keep learning new skills. Learning does not stop at 21.”

There is a warning, however, for the daughters of women living to a ripe old age. Although we have done a great deal to delay the appearance of ageing and to improve screening and preventive medicines, we have made few advances in extending fertility. Doctors have extended women’s lives, but not the lives of the eggs from which they are born.

In utero baby girls have close on one million eggs. By the time that baby has been born, they are numbered in the hundreds of thousands. By the time that baby girl is 15, there may be less than half left and by the time she is a grown woman of 30 there will be 100,000 left. As she hits her early forties, less than a third of the way through her life at current estimates, there may be less than 10,000. And at 50, it is game over.

“I would be the last person to want to scare women who want to have babies later in life,” says Dr Melanie Davies of the Institute for Women’s Health. “But every obstetric complication rises with age and there is no NHS funding for IVF over 35. Nor have we extended the age of the menopause, which in the UK is around 51. It is still lower in smokers, starting in the late forties.”

In the 1950s women had their children at the age of 20 or 21. This has been extended to 29 — we are nearly a decade older than our mothers were when we start families. To make the most of our increased life span, Dixon suggests that women should aim to conceive at a much earlier age and start their careers later on.

“Women are best equipped to have children at a younger age when they have the more energy to raise children and fewer health problems,” she comments. “We all want to see greater life expectancy, but the issue facing women now is that they look and feel younger than some parts of their bodies. They are out of step with their biological clocks. In the US there are 75,000 people aged over 100. That number will double to 150,000 in the next five to six years. The same will happen here.

“We want super-survivors, but we have to think about the next generation too.With life expectancy and energy levels increasing at a far faster rate than fertility, we will have to find a way of managing that gap.”


I can still hear their screams

Those barbarians need a taste of their own medicine. I have a labrador retriever, and just looking at her brings out all of my protective instincts and I want to smash the faces of those inhumane torturers. And they laugh while they’re doing it. I saw a short clip while a pet s how many years ago. The man skewered a dog and laughed while the dog shrieked in pain. ~Pesky Emotional Republican


By: Devvy / News With Views / December 14, 2005

The men grabbed each cage off this huge truck and threw them to the ground – as high up as 30′. The cries of these adorable dogs and cats as they hit the ground sent me into shock. Several dogs and cats crammed into each cage, many already bloodied and many whose bones would break upon impact. I can still hear their screams.

As I watched the video progress, I realized that I was crying. The screams of live dogs and cats as they were skinned alive, their big eyes begging for mercy and receiving none, ripped my heart out and brought incredible rage from deep down inside. The next shots of cat pelts laid on the floor with all the dead bodies still twitching in piles cast aside like garbage, would have driven someone with a weak stomach right to the bathroom. It hardened my resolve against trading with barbarians. I can still hear their screams.

More pictures of dogs being chained – the worker jerking and tightening the chain while the eyes of incredible pain stared at the camera – prepared them for skinning, alive. I don’t know what sound you call dogs and cats as they are being choked and then a knife taken to them right then and there and skinned. To me, it was screams so horrific, I can still hear them two days after I watched the video.

This is an everyday operation by “businessmen” who drive their trucks on the street like a produce truck would in the U.S. It’s estimated these barbarians skin millions of dogs and cats every year – while they are alive. As I watched these “workers” go about their barbaric practice, I wondered how Americans could continue supporting them with their consumer dollar? This is Communist China in all its brutality. The skinning of live dogs and cats is done for money. These barbarians sell the pelts and toss the “meat.” These pelts are illegally being intertwined with fake fur for many retail items being sold in the U.S., i.e. doll clothes and into fabric for human garments, i.e. parka hoods and sweaters. That’s right: That Christmas gift sitting under the tree – if it came from Communist China – most likely is made from the fur of a dog or cat skinned alive. The EU refuses to ban this barbaric practice; it is condemned and illegal in the U.S.

A couple of months ago I sent my family and friends a photo of what appeared to be a golden retriever with a huge fish hook through it’s upper snout. This beautiful dog had been rescued and was at the vet so they could operate on this living creature to remove this grotesque hook. You see, the French government refuses to stop their fishing industry as they kidnap dogs off the streets, shove these huge hooks into their upper snout and throw them off the back of their fishing boats – alive – to troll as shark bait. You can view the photo here. Vacation in gay Paree? I’d rather stay home and clean house. Buy a bottle of wine or bottled water from France? I’d rather drink from the garden hose.

I do not belong to PETA or any animal rights groups; as a matter of fact, I belong to no group, organization or political party. I donate regularly to United Animal Nations because I believe they are one of the very best national organizations. I also donate $15.00 each month to the county animal care services here in Sacramento for the SPCA and our animal facilities. It’s never enough. The people of this country are so busy getting their nails polished, getting their bodies buffed, sitting in front of the stupid tube watching crap, addicted to sports, meth, cocaine, porn and other useless past times, they’re too lazy and selfish to get their pets spayed or neutered. The result is the euthanization of roughly nine million cats and dogs every year. Congratulations, America, for a job well done.

Let’s not forget the animal cruelty in this country which I have seen for myself. Helpless living creatures who ask for nothing more than a little love, food and water. Instead, when I lived in Colorado, it was the norm for people to leave their dogs in the back yard while they went snow skiing for the weekend. Animal control would then come pick up the frozen dog from a back yard while the family was out just having fun. Let’s not forget those who kick and beat their dogs while pumped full of booze and drugs and those sickos who burn them alive for kicks. Congratulations, America, for a job well done.

As I said, I do not belong to nor have I ever donated to PETA. Like so many single issue organizations, they become fanatics out of frustration or they’re so brainwashed, they cross the line into illegal activities like the eco terrorists who burn down sub divisions of new homes. PETA’s silliness over eating beef reaches the point of hysteria and it’s a battle they can’t win. My husband eats only free range beef and pork; I consume only free range chicken, turkey, fish, organic milk and eggs. If you really want to see what you and your family are eating, I respectfully direct you to this site. I fully support our family farms and ranchers, but there does need to be some changes made and themeatrix web site will help people understand why I say this.

However, mixed in sometimes, we do find good work and PETA has helped get this atrocity out to the world that is going on everyday in Communist China on film. You can view it here, but let me warn you, it will break your heart. I am one of those who refuse to buy Made in China with the exception of this keyboard, monitor and hard drive. Otherwise, there is nothing made from slave labor in my home, not my TV and I don’t even own a toaster. It’s not just this barbaric practice, but my first awareness of Communist China’s brutal practices was back in 1993 when I actually took the time to research NAFTA and commie China. What I found sickened me. Before 1993, we the people could buy virtually everything we ever needed made by Americans, so buying foreign was a pretty much a non issue for me. Then came NAFTA and the total destruction of our three most important job sectors: ag, industrial and manufacturing because Americans wanted cheap. Well, Americans got “cheap” and have been the driving economic force behind America’s decline. Since then, Americans like me keep our money, buy Made in America (see here for sources of more than 20,000 products and services) or go without. It’s a matter of principle and loyalty to my country, not communist China, communist Hong Kong, communist Viet Nam, India or Macao. I have no problem with fair trade, but free trade has and will further destroy this republic.

People think that communism is just some word. They are wrong. It is a brutal form of totalitarian government. Remember Tienemen Square? The butchers in Beijing murdered their own citizens for daring to speak out against tyranny. These monsters who run communist China continue to enforce their one-child-per-family policy of forced abortions, infanticide and perilously imbalanced boy-girl ratios. During testimony last year before the House International Relations Committee, testimony centered around the case of Mao Hengfeng. In 1998, Mao was fired from her job at a Shanghai soap factory for becoming pregnant with a second child. This poor mother carried her pregnancy to term despite severe pressure from the government to have an abortion. After she became pregnant again, she sued the soap factory for firing her, and the presiding judge told her he would rule in her favor if she aborted her third pregnancy. Mao then aborted her seven-month-gestation pregnancy, but the court ruled against her, saying that because she violated China’s family planning policy, the factory had a right to dismiss her. This broken woman was then sentenced to 18 months in a prison labor camp for refusing to give up her protests of the government’s family planning policy.

Under communism, the people are indoctrinated into this Godless ideology. They believe it, they live it. They are also slaves and the American people are funding such barbarity:

“But Harry Wu saw the Clinton/Beijing relationship from a deeply human perspective: the blue uniforms and shaved heads in Chinese prison camps. For years, he had been one of the estimated 50 million blue uniformed “troublemakers” who had worked in the camps under totally inhumane conditions. Some of them literally worked themselves to death.” Nothing has changed as Bush gleefully embraces such evil. Can anyone hear their cries of misery while they open that Made in China silk blouse or DVD player under the Christmas tree? Are gadgets like I-pods so important that Americans will ignore the human misery that created them?

Do Americans really understand how a communist system really works? Most don’t and quite frankly, they don’t care. Wearing Nike is more important than facing the truth. Those stock dividends in companies that have sold out this great nation and dumped on the workers who made them so prosperous is more important. Who owns all this stock? Americans. Americans funding such barbaric customs and enriching a murdering government. I wouldn’t own stock in any company that trades with commie China for all the tea in China. Those dividend checks from Boeing, Dell and all the rest are dripping with the blood of human slaves and such barbaric practices like skinning dogs and cats alive.

For a list of companies who have sold out this country, click here and see the box ‘Exporting America.’ I will not buy anything from any company that has sold out the American people and/or has plants in commie China. God forgive me that I had to buy this new computer system two years ago so I can get the truth to my fellow Americans. I would gladly have paid an extra $100, $150 or $200 more for my system made by my fellow Americans, but nothing was available. Pat Buchanan called free trade ‘economic treason.’ It is that and more when you see what your consumer dollar is going to fund.

Click here, Part II – The communist Chinese glorify the attacks on America September 11th.

© 2005 Devvy Kidd – All Rights Reserved


E-Mails are used strictly for NWVs alerts, not for sale



Devvy Kidd authored the booklets, Why A Bankrupt America and Blind Loyalty, which sold close to 2,000,000 copies. Devvy appears on radio shows all over the country, ran for Congress and is a highly sought after public speaker. Your complimentary copy of the 32-page report may be obtained from El Dorado Gold. Devvy is a contributing writer for www.NewsWithViews.com.


Devvy’s website: www.devvy.com

E-mail is: devvyk@earthlink.net





PhD reveals secret life as famed prostitute-turned-blogger

Meet the Real Belle de Jour

Araminta Wordsworth, National Post; With Files From News Services Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Handout Billie Piper, pictured, starred in the Secret Diary of a Call Girl TV series, which was based on the blog and book by Dr. Brooke Magnanti.

For years she titillated Britons with her witty and erotic despatches from the front lines of the sex trade — but the upmarket call girl, known only by the classy pseudonym of Belle de Jour, was also a canny businesswoman, parlaying her blog into a book deal and a hit TV series starring U.K. actress Billie Piper.

All the while, her true identity remained unknown. Not even her literary agent or her publishers knew.

Now the elusive and seductive Belle has been unmasked as Dr. Brooke Magnanti, 34, a research scientist in a hospital in Bristol, western England, where she specializes in developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology.

The American-born woman went public over the weekend out of fear a jealous former boyfriend was about to leak the secret. Her bombshell has provoked soul-searching and outrage among many who thought they knew her.

They include the British Army officer who was her boyfriend for seven years. Known as “The Boy” in diary entries about their sex life, he is now having to tell his family and friends the woman he hoped to marry was an escort girl who charged £300 an hour.

“I can’t believe she has done this,” the man, identified only as Owen, told The Daily Telegraph.

“Brooke has outed me to my family and friends without giving me any warning.

“She never asked if she could write about our life together and I feel humiliated.”

Dr. Magnanti, who went to Britain to study for a doctorate at Sheffield University, has said she turned to prostitution after moving to London to finish her studies and finding she did not have enough money to pay the rent.

The woman, who was brought up a Roman Catholic and convent-educated, signed up with an agency and began being paid to have sex.

Explaining her decision to go public, she said she found “keeping up a double life … just too difficult to do long-term.”

“I suppose I always thought that the part of my life I wrote about would fade away, that I could stick it in a box and move on. Totally separate it from the ‘real me,’ ” she wrote.

She said it had taken her years to realize that while her life had moved on, Belle would “always be a part of me.”

“Belle and the person who wrote her had been apart too long. I had to bring them back together.

“So a perfect storm of feelings

and circumstances drew me out of hiding. And do you know what? It feels so much better on this side. Not to have to tell lies, hide things from the people I care about.

“It became important to acknowledge that aspect of my life and my personality to the world at large.

“I am a woman. I lived in London. I was a call girl.

“The people, the places, the actions and feelings are as true now as they were then, and I stand behind every word with pride.”

Nonetheless, her estranged father Paul Magnanti, 61, is appalled.

“This is a complete shock to me. I had no idea, I found out through the press today,” Mr. Magnanti said from Holiday, Fla., where he runs a gardening business.

“It’s broken my heart. No parent wants to hear that. I was very proud when she got her PhD. She is a very intelligent girl and I wish she had become well-known under different circumstances.

I would rather things had worked out differently but it’s her life to live,” added the father, who admitted to using prostitutes after his marriage to Dr. Magnanti’s mother broke up and even introducing some of the women to his daughter.Her mother has reportedly been “fully supportive,” telling her daughter she was “not the one to judge.”

Similarly, the all-women team at Dr. Magnanti’s employer, the British Initiative for Child Health,

have rallied round since being told the news about a month ago.

“She’s a researcher. She’s just a member of staff here and what happened in the past doesn’t really bear relevance to what she’s doing now,” said a spokesman.

Rowan Pelling, editor of the erotic magazine Erotic Review, helped Dr. Magnanti get published and said people should not be surprised at a research scientist being a call girl.

“For the past couple of days, interviewers have been asking me breathily what I thought of Belle when I met her, as if my eyes must have been out on stalks at the idea of a PhD student turning tricks,” Ms. Pelling wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

“But the truth is I wasn’t startled at all. Throughout my eight years running the Erotic Review, I met people leading all kinds of extraordinary double lives, most of them outwardly respectable pillars of their middle-class communities.”

Some in the media have been less supportive of Dr. Magnanti’s description of call-girl life.

“Hers was an extraordinary experience of prostitution; she was lucky, because prostitution ordinarily is, simply put, a condition that kills women,” wrote Tanya Gold in Britain’s Guardian.

“I am glad you were not battered, Belle, but prostitution is a poisoned solution; a solution to nothing.”

Bel Mooney, in the Daily Mail, said the worst aspect of the “whole sorry story” is that such an intelligent woman, with all the privileges of a good background and education, should make “such a low-down choice.”

The use of the moniker Belle de Jour might have given a clue that Dr. Magnanti was above the usual run of sex-trade workers.

It refers to the classic Luis Bunuel movie in which Catherine Deneuve (clothed enviably by Yves St. Laurent) plays a bored housewife who turns to sadomasochistic sessions in a brothel to liven up her afternoons.

But in fact Belle’s antecedents are closer to the courtesans of Georgian and Regency England, women such as Dorothea Jordan or Harriette Wilson, whose racy memoirs were a best-seller — among her lovers were the Prince of Wales, later George IV, and four prime ministers, including the Duke of Wellington.


Chinese diners eat live fish in YouTube video

Does this make you as sick and angry as it makes me? Does it make you wonder how people can laugh while a living thing is suffering? Don’t get me wrong: I don’t cry for ants or crickets and normally do not cry for fish or any animal that has no facial expression, but these people are laughing at the creature’s gasps for air and I cannot stand it. ~P.E.R.


The article is HERE.


Sarah Palin, you don’t need the large bag of ego that is Oprah

Tue, Nov 17, 2009 03:59 PM PST

Michelle Obama, Oprah, Barack Obama

I was never crazy about Oprah Winfrey like so many other women are or have been. For reasons that I cannot fathom, she never had what made me want to catch her shows and in my lifetime I have watched only a choice few of them, but I know her style from the constant coverage she has on air and in ink.

I started actively disliking her when she spoke against beef in a ”Mad Cow Disease“ on her show and was sued by the Texas cattle ranchers. Not that she spoke out against beef, because that is her right, but that she took out the race card and used it there in Texas, referring to herself as a vulnerable, beset-by-thugs Black woman. She, who could have bought all of Texas on the spot. At that point it was goodbye, Wrong Answer, Shut Up, Go Home. This hugely wealthy woman with an empire bigger than a Chinese dynasty trying to win a case using the race card was my definite Last Stop For You, Lady.

Oh, and there’s also the tantrum she threw when Hermès didn’t ler her into the shop simply because it was after store hours. Remember that one? After playing herself as just one of us, nothing special….. until Hèrmes doesn’t open its doors after closing time just for her — and then you see the real Attitude.

Because what’s really bothering me is that Sarah Palin felt it necessary to have a sit-down with Ms. O after being turned down for any kind of exposure during the campaign, when Oprah was making sure that only Obama got all the air and ink from her. Bothers me that people consider her the venue without which you cannot win. Stop it already.

Palin needs nothing from Oprah. Nothing. Zip. Niente. Nada. Nichevo. I wish that she had stayed away from the sorry huge ego that is Winfrey and I hope that she stays away from the Likes of Letterman. Those two overexposed blowhards can get lost and suck the air that blows out of their mouths.

And here is the article that set me off. Still makes me mad that Palin’s advisors are steering her towards the likes of Ms. O.


Sarah and Oprah, Separated at Birth?

Posted: 11/17/09

By Mary C. Curtis / Politics Daily

Sarah Palin and Oprah Winfrey

Sarah Palin and Oprah Winfrey have more in common than you – and they – might think. Both women from modest backgrounds have built success on their “everywoman” appeal. And both have long since become anything but.

Watching them square off on Winfrey’s show Monday was like watching Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots – respectful monarchs keeping their distance. Except, neither lost her head.

It was a curious hour, with both women on their best behavior. When Winfrey “went there” with questions about Levi Johnston, she played it more cute than caustic, throwing in that “invitation to Thanksgiving dinner” comment sure to draw get a laugh without cutting too deep. Even her usual demonstrative audience seemed to hold its breath, waiting for drama that never came.

For her part, Palin didn’t make much of Winfrey’s very public support for candidate Barack Obama. During the election season, Winfrey strayed from her human-interest features and diet and lifestyle tips to take on politics, and some of her female viewers – perhaps feeling solidarity with Palin – resented it. Her ratings dipped slightly, something that hardly slipped the astute Winfrey’s notice. So she’s off to state fairs, consolidating her down-to-earth bona fides, and mending a few fences with the hottest interview on the planet.

Palin’s smart enough to know what’s at stake. The most successful authors still go through Winfrey’s empire. On the show, Palin felt close enough to Winfrey to do a little Katie Couric-bashing, peevishly blaming the CBS anchor for the crime of asking follow-up questions. (By the way, how can Palin now insist she didn’t want to be treated differently because of her gender, then imply Couric promised a just-between-us-girls chat instead of a serious interview?)

Because both Palin and Winfrey trail strong personalities and a power aura, there wasn’t any room for spontaneity, and that’s too bad. I was waiting for Winfrey to ask Palin why she didn’t rebuke the more raucous and racist chanters at campaign rallies. Instead, viewers got some video of Palin in the gym and hanging out with the kids. As the interview ended, when Winfrey playfully asked Palin if she craves a talk show and Palin demurred, calling her questioner the “queen,” it was clear that there would be no heat and little light.

What you got was what you’d expect – two pros who know how to protect their brands and can recognize a fellow survivor when they see one.


Anything He Can Do, She Can Do

Published: November 13, 2009 / New York Times.com

IN STAGES Sara Davis Buechner, who used to be David Buechner, and now lives in Vancouver.

IN September 1998, David Buechner, then 39, a prominent classical pianist, came out as a transgender woman, explaining that from then on, she would live and perform as Sara Davis Buechner. The pianist had been accustomed to rave reviews (at 24, David, in his New York City concert debut, was called “an extraordinary young artist” by a New York Times critic). But the debut as Sara, reported in a Times magazine article, was not so well received, even by loved ones.

Elizabeth and Anthony Buechner, the parents, as well as Matthew, the older brother, all expressed their opposition. In a recent interview, Matthew Buechner, a professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas, said he had counseled David to remain a man publicly and cross-dress in private. “A lot of people live that kind of dichotomy,” Matthew said. “I saw the switch as something that would destroy a career. Classical audiences are very conservative.”

But Sara Buechner was determined to be. She said that from when she first took lessons at age 3, she knew she’d be a pianist, and not long after, realized she was meant to be a girl. (“On the playground, boys yelled ‘David’s a girl’ and I’d think, ‘You got that right.’ ”) She believed that bouts of heavy drinking and depression during her years as David stemmed from not being true to herself.

In the next years, Ms. Buechner largely disappeared from public view, though not by choice. David had done 50 concerts a year — performing with philharmonic orchestras in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and San Francisco — but as Sara, she couldn’t get bookings. “Apart from local gigs, from 1998 to 2003, I did three to five concerts a year,” she said. David taught as an adjunct professor at Manhattan School of Music and New York University, but as Sara, seeking a full-time professorship, “I applied 35 places and wouldn’t even get a response. Behind my back, I’d hear, ‘Is it safe to leave him in a room with undergrads?’ ”

Continue reading