Moped vs. Ferrari.

A hip young man goes out and spends $500,000 on a Ferrari GTO. He takes it out for a spin and stops for a red light. An old man on a moped pulls up next to him. The old man looks over at the sleek, shiny car and asks, “What kind of car ya got there sonny?” The young man replies, “A Ferrari GTO. It cost half a million dollars!” “That’s a lot of money,” says the old man. “Why does it cost so much?” “Because this car can do up to 320 miles an hour!” states the young man proudly. The moped driver asks, “Mind if I take a look inside?” “No problem,” replies the owner. So the old man pokes his head in the window and looks around. Then, sitting back on his moped, the old man says, “That’s a pretty nice car, all right. But I’ll stick with my moped.”

Just then the light changes, so the guy decides to show the old man just what his car can do. He floors it, and within 30 seconds, the speedometer reads 160 mph. Suddenly, he notices a dot in his rear view mirror. It seems to be getting closer! He slows down to see what it could be. And suddenly — WHHHOOOOOOSSSSSHHH — something whips by him, going much faster. “What on Earth could be going faster than my Ferrari?” the young man asks himself. He floors the accelerator and takes the Ferrari up to 250 mph. Then, up ahead of him, he sees that it’s the old man on the moped. Amazed that the moped could pass his Ferrari, he gives it more gas and passes the moped at 275 mph. He’s feeling pretty good until he looks in his mirror and sees the old man gaining on him again.

Astounded by the speed of this old guy, he floors the gas pedal and takes the Ferrari all the way up to 320 mph. Not 10 seconds later he sees the moped bearing down on him again. The Ferrari is flat out, and there’s nothing he can do.

Suddenly, the moped plows into the back of his Ferrari, demolishing the rear end. The young man stops and jumps out, and unbelievably, the old man is still alive. He runs up to the mangled old man and says, “Oh, my word! Is there anything I can do for you?” The old man whispers, “Unhook… my… suspenders… from… your… side-view mirror.”

America’s Owners accelerate ownership of Congress.

WaPo reports on the uptick in wealthy donor contributions to candidates and PACs since the Supreme Court Injustices did away with individual limits in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission:

Together, 310 donors gave a combined $11.6 million more by this summer than would have been allowed before the ruling. Their contributions favored Republican candidates and committees over Democratic ones by 2 to 1.

Uh-oh! You know what that means: we “leftee” gazillionairez can haz moar konservativ demacratz nao plz.

“I would think everybody would be for more money in politics like I am, because we’re just spreading speech” -Shaun McCutcheon, the chief executive of an Alabama electrical engineering firm who brought the Supreme Court case.

Sure! Everybody! Well, except perhaps the vast majority of Americans who have no fucking money to buy congresscritters—and who, by Mr. McCutcheon’s and the Supreme Court’s “money is speech” decree, are for all intents and purposes silenced.

wealthdistributionpiechart14Have a nice day.


Recent reads.

REMINDER: The acquisition of links for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual.


Captives held by Islamic State were waterboarded. Goldman, A. and Tate, J., The Washington Post (Aug. 2014). (“James Foley was among the four who were waterboarded several times by Islamic State militants who appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”)

The Ferguson Syllabus: Sociological Research Puts Ferguson in Context. Cole, N.L., (Aug. 2014).

We should all be feminists. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston (Apr. 2013) (VIDEO).

California Passes Affirmative Consent Bill; Rape Apologists Retreat Into Fantasy. Mandanas, L., Autostraddle (Aug. 2014).

These tiny scorpions would like to perform an important inspection of your old book collection, please. Crew, B., Scientific American (Aug. 2014). (“When they’re not patrolling old books or supporting oversized appendages with their tiny heads, book scorpions are having weird sex.”) (with VIDEO).

We Won A Thing: Texas Judge Throws Out Parts Of Restrictive Abortion Law. Audrey, Autostraddle (Aug. 2014).

There’s a big gap between what men and women make in the restaurant industry. Ferdman, R.A., The Washington Post (Aug. 2014).

Fucking Pick One. Feminace, Seriously?!? (Aug. 2014). (“Man, for all of the claims that ladyfolks are the emotional and irrational gender, nothing hits the heights of hysteria like a pissed off dudebro.”)

Texas National Guard troops forced to go to food banks for help amid paycheck delays. Forsyth, J., Reuters via Raw Story (Aug. 2014).

The One Word Men Never See In Their Performance Reviews. Davis, K., FastCompany (Aug. 2014).

Abortion Access for All: Two Nonprofits Embrace Gender Inclusive Language. KaeLyn, Autostraddle (Aug. 2014).


For the Palace Quote Collection:

“The Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black, the Thracians that theirs have light blue eyes and red hair.” -Xenophanes (5-6th century BCE)

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” -attributed to Emma Goldman

BREAKING: Richard Dawkins, live organ donor!

I’ve got a new post up at Secular Woman: Loyal Readers™, please give Richard Dawkins a warm welcome to the Palace Abattoir!


No doubt he will have much to discuss with his fellow involuntary donors-in-residence, as they pass the time waiting until someone has a life-threatening condition requiring one (or more) of their body parts. Just for starters, there are the 447 active and retired members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who I am told are most anxious to hear more of his insightful pontifications on the relatively minimal harms of “mild pedophilia.”

Happy Labor Day Weekend, USAians! Remember when the U.S. labor movement was really something to celebrate? Yeah, me neither.

A Palace milestone + recent reading.

Beloved Loyal Readers™, I cannot express how personally gratified I am to report that for at least the past week, the number one search term that brought new minions to our gates is:


Consistently, the most visited page at the Palace has been the tardigrade exhibit in our zoo, narrowly beating out perennial favorites like “Ask Iris: is there any gay porn with decent dialogue?“, “The Abattoir,” and of course “Iris the Idiot’s Kitchen: Cakeman Raven’s Red Velvet Cake.” Disappointingly, we still have not heard back from Big Willy tardigrade expert Professor Bob Goldstein in response to our perfectly reasonable inquiry about eating tardigrades in order to become immortal extremophiles (and recommended wine pairings, of course). I tell you, some people just have no fucking respect for preeminent science journalists like Your Humble Monarch™.

In any event, perhaps readers may recall the recent debut of my first-ever-on-the-internet-three-quarter-face-shot, and my hints about how I was subtly disguised? Well, in celebration of the tardigrades’ ascension to the top of the Palace charts, I feel I can finally reveal my true face to all the world!

 tardigradefaceIris Vander Pluym (selfie),
August 28, 2014

Yes, I must confess: it has for so many years been my secret mission to ostensibly author a politics-sex-&-religion blog, all the while secretly advancing the agenda of the tardigrades.



REMINDER: The acquisition of links for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual. (Especially not the first one here. Jeezus Fucking Christ.)

I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me. Dutta, S., The Washington Post (Aug. 2014). [WHAT. -Ed.]

Friends of Israel: The lobbying group AIPAC has consistently fought the Obama Administration on policy. Is it now losing influence? Bruck, C., The New Yorker (Sep. 2014).

Why I Think Jesus Didn’t Exist: A Historian Explains the Evidence That Changed His Mind. Carrier, R., UNCG Atheists (Mar. 2013). [VIDEO]

Each new video that Anita Sarkeesian posts is a sign that the bullies are losing. Futrelle, D., We Hunted The Mammoth (Aug. 2014).

Islam for Dummies: This Is What Wannabe Jihadists Order on Amazon Before Leaving for Syria. Hasan, M., New Republic (Aug. 2014). (“You could not ask for better evidence to bolster the argument that the 1,400-year-old Islamic faith has little to do with the modern jihadist movement.”)

10 intriguing female revolutionaries that you didn’t learn about in history class. Kathleen, Whizzpast (Aug. 2014).

The Sexist Facebook Movement The Marine Corps Can’t Stop. Jones, B.A., Task & Purpose (Aug. 2014). (“As the nation grapples with the debate about women in combat and the military’s sexual assault justice problem, both issues are being undermined by nefarious cultural insurgencies on social media, and military leaders seem powerless to stop it.”)

Vivid Photos Capture an Environmental Disaster Nobody’s Talking About. McKay, T., (Aug. 2014). (“The spill released around 10 million gallons of acid into the Bacanuchi and Sonora Rivers.”)

Rape Perceptions, Gender Role Attitudes,and Victim-Perpetrator Acquaintance. Ben-David, S. and Schneider, O., Sex Roles, Vol. 53, Nos. 5/6, DOI: 10.1007/s11199-005-6761-4 (Sep. 2005). (“Significant negative correlations were found between gender-role attitudes and four measures of rape perceptions.“)

Stranger and Acquaintance Rape: Are There Differences In the Victim’s Experience? Koss, M.P. et al, Psychology of Women Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 1, DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.1988.tb00924.x (Mar. 1988). (paywall.) (“virtually no differences were found among any of the groups in their levels of psychological symptoms.”)


Recent reading.

PLEASE NOTE: Acquisition of links for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual.


Ferguson Police Busted – Attempt To Defame Shooting Victim Blows Up In Their Face. Downe, N., Addicting Info (Aug. 2013). [with VIDEO] (“When the Ferguson police department released the name of Darren Wilson, they also chose to release video footage which they claimed was of Michael Brown robbing a convenience store for some cigars. The problem is, the video shows Michael Brown at the register, paying for the cigars.”)

Campaigns for #MikeBrown #Ferguson. Spaceship Dreaming (Aug. 2014). (“a list of donations, protests, and petitions that you can do to help the people in #Ferguson and to assist #MikeBrown and #EzellFord all others who have been killed by the hands of the police.” updated regularly.)

Atheists face death threats on Fox Facebook page; re: 9/11 cross. Stone, M., (Jul. 2014). Slideshow of screencaps.

The Role of Help-Seeking in Preventing Suicide Attempts among Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals. Meyer, I.H. et al, Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior [paywall] (May 2014). (from the Williams Institute press release: “individuals who sought religious or spiritual treatment had higher odds of later attempting suicide than those who did not seek treatment at all.”)

Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protest. ACLU.
Know Your Rights: Photographers. ACLU.
Know Your Rights: What To Do If You’re Stopped By Police, Immigration Agents or the FBI. ACLU.

Global Peace Index 2014. Institute for Economics and Peace (pdf). (map and rankings.) [SPOILER ALERT! The United States ranks 101 out of 162 countries.]

Harassment in Science, Replicated. Aschwanden, C., The New York Times (Aug. 2014). (“the problem will not be solved with new rules archived on unread websites. The responsibility for pushing back should not rest solely with the victims. Solutions require a change of culture that can happen only from within. It will take chief executives, department heads, laboratory directors, professors, publishers and editors in chief to take a stand and say: Not on my watch. I don’t care if you’re my friend or my favorite colleague; we don’t treat women like that.”)

In Texas, Activist Group “Stop Patriarchy” Draws Criticism. Klabusich, K., Bitch Magazine (Aug. 2014).

George Orwell’s review of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf. (Mar. 1940). (via Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing). [h/t Simon.]

Photos of women & girls in the National Child Labor Committee Collection at the Library of Congress. (LOC source.)

12 things white people can do now because of Ferguson. Woods, J., Quartz (Aug. 2014).


Recent Library Acquisitions.

In no particular order:

The Most Wanted Man in the World. Bamford, J., Wired (Aug 2014).

War Gear Flows to Police Departments. Apuzzo, M., The New York Times (Jun. 2014).

Profiting from Probation: America’s “Offender-Funded” Probation Industry. Human Rights Watch (2014) (pdf).

WikiLeaks: Decades Long Proof Of Government, Corporate Surveillance Of Native Americans Revealed. Grae, C., MintPress News (Aug. 2014).

The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third Less. Bernasek, A., The New York Times (Jul. 2014).

Income inequality seems to be rising in more than 2 in 3 metro areas. Chokshi, N., The Washington Post (Aug. 2014).

Serving Israel’s aim of lowering civilian deaths, ‘New York Times’ Gaza tally says 15- to 17-year-old’s aren’t children. Connors, P., Mondoweiss (Aug. 2014).

Wound from a rubber bullet shot at peaceful protester in #Ferguson. @natedrug, (Aug. 2014). [TW: graphic image of open wound.]

The 8 Biggest Lies Men’s Rights Activists Spread About Women. Ross, J., (Jun. 2014).

Now The End Begins. (“The Magazine of Record for the Last Days”.) [TW: visual assaults, aesthetic crimes and misdemeanors.] OMFG YOU GUYS. For my piece in Secular Woman, I was searching for a citation regarding FEMA camp conspiracy theories when I came across this site. It is so hilariously wacky I thought surely it must be satire, but the more I scanned the more certain I became that these people are 100% for realz. (And they’re fucking Baptists, to boot.) Some headlines include:

  • 12 Shocking Proofs That Disaster Strikes America When It Mistreats Israel.
  • 7 Signs For Bible Believers That We Are In The Last Days Before The Rapture.
  • Berlin To Build Very First Temple Of Chrislam For One World Religion.
  • 40 Mind-Blowing Quotes From Barack Hussein Obama On Islam And Christianity.
  • Open Witchcraft And Satanism On Display At 2014 Grammys.
  • The Awful Reality Of Hell: You Don’t Have To Go There.

Read it and weep. Or laugh your ass off, as the mood strikes you.

Finally, This Way Up is an Oscar-nominated animated short film that follows “two dour unfortunates as they battle a series of misadventures while trying to deliver a coffin to the graveyard.” Pure joy. [h/t Vanina]. Watch:


New post at Secular Woman Salon.

I’ve posted my first piece for Secular Woman Salon, entitled “PROJECTION: It’s Not Just For Movies” [CONTENT NOTE: f*-bombs]. It’s about the religious right’s psychological projection and what we can can glean from the implications of that. SPOILER ALERT: those implications are both amusing and terrifying.

I am finding this writers group to be as talented and sharp as they are helpful and supportive, which is to say wonderful. Please check them out if you’re so inclined.

Strangely, no one has commented on my post’s accompanying image. I can’t imagine why, since it clearly stands among my finest works to date:

pigass2“Pig vs. Ass”
Iris Vander Pluym (2014)
Oil on canvas. 20 ft. x 50 ft.
minimum bid: $10,000,000.00


Since Feminist Hivemind is no longer online, I think in the coming days I might post here at least some of the material I wrote exclusively for that site, if for no other reason than to have it archived where I can access it and link to it. (I will note the source information at the top of these posts, including the original publishing date as far as I can ascertain it.)

Obviously, none of the Hivemind pieces will be anywhere near as brilliant as ^that graphic, though. So don’t go getting your expectations up or anything.



On Ferguson.

I’ve been both riveted to and revolted by news coming out of Ferguson. By “news,” of course, I do not mean “establishment media,” although a few outliers have done some surprisingly good work. As of this writing, the Wikipedia page “Shooting of Michael Brown” seems to be a fairly well-sourced, up-to-date read. Obviously the story is nowhere near finished. I fear what that page will say when all is said and done, that the blanks will be filled in with more terror and more tears.

This is both the best and worst thing I’ve seen yet:


Palestinians in Gaza are tweeting tear gas advice to the people of Ferguson.

Here, you can see why they need it.

I am finding Ferguson exceptionally hard to write about for a number of reasons, not least of which is the awareness that my whiteness has insulated me from being subject to the same experiences as black and brown individuals and communities are at the hands of police. Relatedly, I feel strongly that those voices and perspectives are the ones that ought to be amplified and heard on these issues, not mine.

Another reason I find it difficult to write about it is that it is personally fucking devastating. By which I mean I feel sadness, rage, horror, disgust, fear, frustration and chaotic emotions I cannot name. It’s the same feeling evoked only a few weeks ago, when NYPD officers killed my fellow New Yorker Eric Garner with an illegal chokehold—then waited 7 minutes to give him CPR. And before that, the death of Sean Bell. And before that, the death of Amadou Diallo. And before that, the torture of Abner LouimaAnd and and

But my grief and anger are nothing—nothing—compared to what the victims, their loved ones and their communities experience, day in and day out, in a country that we call “free.” My anguish and frustration are mere shadows of enormous and unyielding terrors, betrayals, dehumanization, losses and despair I cannot even begin to fathom. I can listen, I can learn, I can signal boost, but I cannot experience the world through any eyes other than my own. I can write about law enforcement abuses, the War on Some People Who Use Drugs, the evils of private prisons, the militarization of police forces, the stupidity of our gun laws, the cruelty and inhumanity of the system. I can keep warning that no one is safe from these tactics and human rights violations, that if you think such atrocities will only ever happen to Those Other People™ you are dangerously naive. I can beg you to think about that, and to consider that if for some reason I don’t understand you are not moved by their plight, perhaps you can fear for your own. Yes, yours. If the state can target older white males who are politically conservative, have money, and often have military experience and even security clearances, who can’t they target?

I can support these people.

I can read this blog.

I can want so badly to help make things right, but the stubborn fact remains that I don’t have the first fucking clue how to do it. Not in my own city, not in my own country, and not on a far away little strip of land called Gaza.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair – A Champion of Secularism Gone, Largely Forgotten and Hugely Under-Appreciated

Introduction: Madalyn Murray O’Hair (1919 – 1995)

Time magazine called Madalyn Murray O’Hair the most hated woman in America during her reign as a leading secularist in the second half of the 20th century. Her unyielding and, to most, abrasive defense of the wall separating government from religion was as effective as it was controversial. She relished every opportunity to provoke the faithful and to challenge public officials who illegally granted religion special privilege in American life. School prayer was the first of many issues that brought Madalyn to public attention.

The Public Takes Notice

Madalyn burst on the scene of American piety when she objected to Bible readings in the Baltimore public schools, which were attended by her eldest son, William. In concert with a related case in Pennsylvania, known as the Abbington School District v. Schempp, the Supreme Court invalidated public school prayer throughout the country because of her legal actions.

O’Hair founded American Atheists and debated religious leaders on a variety of issues across the land. She annoyed nearly everyone, including fellow religious skeptics – and her life truly was an unhappy mess. At one time she had a national radio program which she used to educate the citizenry about religion and theism. She is credited with helping put a halt to plans that would have had astronaut Buzz Aldrin staging a televised communion on the moon! She also blocked a Texas law that would have required public officials to affirm believe in a Supreme Being. O’Hair tried, like many other atheists since, to get In God We Trust off coins, and to prevent the pope from saying mass on the Mall in Washington, D.C. – and to put a stop to tax exemptions for churches.

She filed numerous lawsuits in defense of the U.S. secular Constitution, including many even supporters believed had little chance of success. O’Hair believed that certain lost causes have symbolic and consciousness-raising value.

A Passion for Liberty

O’Hare often spoke of her faith in man’s ability to transform the world by his own efforts, a faith that might have been less warranted than even the faith religionists assign to the promises of a heaven or the dangers of a hell.

O’Hair was murdered in 1995 by a career criminal and two accomplices. The crime was motivated by greed, not passions inflamed by her convictions or life work.

Timeless Observations Worth Remembering

Madalyn was very quotable – here are a few of my favorites:

* I’ll tell you what you did with atheists for about 1500 years. You outlawed them from the universities or any teaching careers, besmirched their reputations, banned or burned their books or their writings of any kind, drove them into exile, humiliated them, seized their properties, arrested them for blasphemy. You dehumanized them with beatings and exquisite torture, gouged out their eyes, slit their tongues, stretched, crushed, or broke their limbs, tore off their breasts if they were women, crushed their scrotums if they were men, imprisoned them, stabbed them, disemboweled them, hanged them, burnt them alive. And you have nerve enough to complain to me that I laugh at you?

* This religion gives you goals which are outside of reality. It enriches your fantasy life with ugliness. It fills you with ideas of guilt over the most common human experiences — usually related to sex. In this room, right now, each of you, in your own lives, has agonized over the fact that you have masturbated. Masturbation isn’t sinful. If it feels good — do it. You have my blessing, and you yourself know how it relaxes you.”
“People say, `So what? It’s just a little cross.’ What if it were a little swastika?

* Atheism may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a lifestyle and ethical outlook verifiable by experience and the scientific method, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and creeds.
R.I.P. brave soul.