Reads.

library4

40,000 Voter-Registration Applications Submitted by Blacks and Hispanics Disappear in Ga. Eromosele, D.O., The Root (Oct. 2014).

James Comey, F.B.I. Director, Hints at Action as Cellphone Data Is Locked. Sanger, D.E. and Apuzzo, M., The New York Times (Oct. 2014).

Inside the New York Fed: Secret Recordings and a Culture Clash. Bernstein, J., Pro Publica (Sep. 2014). (“A confidential report and a fired examiner’s hidden recorder penetrate the cloistered world of Wall Street’s top regulator — and its history of deference to banks.”)

20 Vile Quotes Against Women By Religious Leaders From St. Augustine to Pat Robertson. Tarico, V., AlterNet (Oct. 2014).

US and Japan Lead Attack on Affordable Cancer Treatments. Assange, J. and Harrison, S., Wikileaks (Oct. 2014). Related: Updated Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – IP Chapter (second publication) [full bracketed text]; Press Release.

Feminist internet laws. Rational Wiki.

What ‘Democracy’ Really Means in U.S. and New York Times Jargon: Latin America Edition. Greenwald, G., The Intercept (Oct. 2014). (“The most tyrannical regimes are celebrated as long as they remain subservient, while the most popular and democratic governments are condemned as despots to the extent that they exercise independence.”)

This is what the legacy of ‘white privilege’ looks like in Bill O’Reilly’s hometown. Badger, E., The Washington Post (Oct. 2014).

Missing Malala’s Message of Peace: Drones Fuel Terrorism. Hart, P., FAIR (Oct. 2014).

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

Conservatism kills.

A new video by some outfit called the Agenda Project Action Fund entitled Republican Cuts Kill is the kind of thing we’d like to see a lot more of. It takes the silly Ebola paranoia emanating from the right-wing cesspools of The Greatest Country EVAR and turns it on its head:

Of course as Loyal Readers™ well know, Republicans are hardly the entirety of the problem: conservative Democrats, including the Cutter-in-Chief, are equally worthy targets. Conservatism kills, regardless of who enacts conservative policies.

Relatedly:

ebolaGOP

“So far every case of Ebola in this country got it by helping people. So relax, Republicans, you’re in the clear.” -@TinaDupuy

I don’t know who this Tina Dupuy person is—but I like her style.

Recent reads.

library4The (Socialist) Malala Yousafzai the US Media Doesn’t Quote. Norton, B., bennorton.com via The Greanville Post (Oct. 2014). (“When the courageous activist speaks of the importance of education and nonviolence, the West shouts her words loudly from the media mountaintops. When that same activist criticizes predator drones and, that most sacrosanct entity of all, capitalism, the silence is deafening.”)

Feminist cancels USU talk after guns allowed despite death threat. Alberty, E., The Salt Lake Tribune (Oct. 2014).

After California decriminalized marijuana, teen arrest, overdose and dropout rates fell. Ingraham, C., The Washington Post (Oct. 2014). (“marijuana decriminalization in California has not resulted in harmful consequences for teenagers, such as increased crime, drug overdose, driving under the influence, or school dropout. In fact, California teenagers showed improvements in all risk areas after reform.”)

The Government War Against Reporter James Risen. Solomon, N. and Wheeler, M., The Nation (Oct. 2014). (“The vendetta against him and whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling reflects an antidemocratic goal: the uninformed consent of the governed.”)

DHS raids investigative journalist; seizes confidential list of whistleblowers. Police State USA (Oct. 2014). (“I never in my wildest dreams thought something like that could happen in this country.”)

5 Stupid, Unfair and Sexist Things Expected of Men. Christina, C., AlterNet (Oct. 2014).

Meet the CIA’s 10 Favorite Drug Traffickers. Alexandrov, N., AlterNet via Substance.com (Oct. 2014). (“The agency has supported — even created — many of the world’s most notorious drug kingpins. Just as long as they serve U.S. foreign policy.”)

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Finally, a little Nietzsche for our Quote collection. Yes that Nietzsche, who held some, *ahem*, problematic views. But the man also had some good ideas and expressed them so well:

There is not sufficient love and goodness in the world to permit us to give some of it away to imaginary beings. -Friedrich Nietzsche

After coming into contact with a religious man, I always feel I must wash my hands. -Friedrich Nietzsche

Mystical explanations are considered deep; the truth is, they are not even shallow. -Friedrich Nietzsche

When we hear the ancient bells growling on a Sunday morning we ask ourselves: Is it really possible! This, for a Jew, crucified two thousand years ago, who said he was God’s son? The proof of such a claim is lacking. Certainly the Christian religion is an antiquity projected into our times from remote prehistory; and the fact that the claim is believed — whereas one is otherwise so strict in examining pretensions — is perhaps the most ancient piece of this heritage. A god who begets children with a mortal woman; a sage who bids men work no more, have no more courts, but look for the signs of the impending end of the world; a justice that accepts the innocent as a vicarious sacrifice; someone who orders his disciples to drink his blood; prayers for miraculous interventions; sins perpetrated against a god, atoned for by a god; fear of a beyond to which death is the portal; the form of the cross as a symbol in a time that no longer knows the function and ignominy of the cross — how ghoulishly all this touches us, as if from the tomb of a primeval past! Can one believe that such things are still believed? -Friedrich Nietzsche

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. -Friedrich Nietzsche

One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity, ordinary actions to habit, and mean actions to fear. -Friedrich Nietzsche

When virtue has slept, she will get up more refreshed. -Friedrich Nietzsche

In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments. -Friedrich Nietzsche

The reasons and purposes for habits are always lies that are added only after some people begin to attack these habits and to ask for reasons and purposes. At this point the conservatives of all ages are thoroughly dishonest: they add lies. -Friedrich Nietzsche

God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. — And we — we still have to vanquish his shadow, too. -Friedrich Nietzsche

In the mountains of truth you will never climb in vain: either you will get up higher today or you will exercise your strength so as to be able to get up higher tomorrow. -Friedrich Nietzsche

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

BREAKING: Influx of involuntary organ donors from Louisiana.

abattoir2Extraction teams standing by.

A piece by Alana Semuels and Maria L. La Ganga in the LA Times this weekend documents the coat hanger lobby’s template in Louisiana, the same state-level strategy it has been using to successfully shutter abortion clinics across the nation, most recently and devastatingly in Texas. While the article will likely offer nothing new to Loyal Readers™ here, it does offer up a fresh slate of involuntary organ donors, i.e. those would happily force others to donate lifesaving organs without their consent. Since they feel so very strongly about this principle, it is of course only right and fair that they live (or die) by it. Just think of all the lives we will be saving by extracting a kidney and maybe some skin grafts from each of these principled Americans:

  1. Charmaine Yoest, president, Americans United for Life
    Qualification: says of the successful state-level strategy of forced childbirth, “There wasn’t much opportunity on the federal level, so pro-life [sic] Americans said, ‘We are going to make a statement with the government that’s nearest and closest to us.'”
  2. Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, Republican.
    Qualification: “has been so consistent in his opposition to abortion that the state is celebrated as the most ‘pro-life’ in the country by Americans United for Life.”
  3. Bill Shanks, anti-abortion protester and member of fundamentalist Christian group Operation Save America.
    Qualification: “This is like a victory celebration. Last time we came here, there were 10 free-standing abortion clinics. One by one, they’ve crumbled.”
  4. Benjamin Clapper, executive director, Louisiana Right to Life Federation.
    Qualification: well, he is the executive director of the Louisiana Right to Life [sic] Federation…
  5. Gene Mills, Christian pastor and head of the Louisiana Family Misogyny Forum (founded by fellow involuntary organ donor Tony Perkins).
    Qualification: publishes antiabortion scorecards on Louisiana legislators, distributes them to churches and encourages pastors to unconstitutionally speak out about elected officials in violation of their tax-exempt status: “We want to let [pastors] know that it is not the government’s right to limit your free speech even when you stand on the pulpit.”
  6. Katrina Jackson, Louisiana State Representative, Democrat.
    Qualification: Sponsor of Louisiana’s TRAP law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals: “I look forward to the day abortion is not legal in this country.”
  7. Warniesha Berry, garden variety asshole.
    Qualification: “if you close them down and there is no possible way to get an abortion, you’re going to think twice about having unprotected sex.” Hahaha nope.

Everyone, and that includes our new involuntary organ donors from Louisiana, knows these things:

coathangerAll of those who find themselves today unwilling participants in our groundbreaking involuntary organ donation program are well aware of these facts: these are features, not bugs, in their ideology and the laws spawned from it. Unlike our donors, we take no pleasure in enslaving and violently harming people. We do, however, take some small measure of satisfaction when justice is served fairly and equally to all people. Pregnant or not.

Welcome to the Abattoir, shitweasels.

Recent reading.

library4Asset seizures fuel police spending. Robert O’Harrow Jr., R. and Rich, S., The Washington Post (Oct. 2014). (“Of the nearly $2.5 billion in spending reported in the forms, 81 percent came from cash and property seizures in which no indictment was filed.”)

German colleges offer free degrees to Americans. CBS, wtsp.com (Oct. 2014).

Decades-old CIA crack-cocaine scandal gains new momentum. RT.com (Oct. 2014).

Documents Reveal Billions of Gallons of Oil Industry Wastewater Illegally Injected
Into Central California Aquifers: Tests Find Elevated Arsenic, Thallium Levels in Nearby Water Wells. Center for Biological Diversity. (Oct. 2014).

The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women. Buni, C. and Chemaly, S., The Atlantic (Oct. 2014). (“Under the banner of free speech, companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have been host to rape videos and revenge porn—which makes female users feel anything but free.”)

This Week, Two Incidents Of Street Harassment Escalated Into Violent Attacks Against Women. Culp-Ressler, T., Think Progress (Oct. 2014).

The War on Viet Nam, the Coming “Official History,” and the US Victory in that War. Jonas, S., The Greanville Post (Oct. 2014).

Lullabies for Misandrists. Ortberg, M., The Toast (Sep. 2013). (OMGLOL—especially the comments. -Ed.)

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NOTE PLZ: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Halloween is early this year.

blackcatBoo.

It’s a little early for Halloween, I know, but I just read this thing (from 2012!) and it is just about the scariest, most mind-blowing shit I think I’ve ever encountered:

How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy

Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will startle you. Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia?

Yes. Yes in fact they very well could be.

These monsters are real.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Recent reading.

library4Walmart heirs working to kill affordable rooftop solar power. Clawson, L., Daily Kos (Oct. 2014).

DHS raids investigative journalist; seizes confidential list of whistleblowers. Site Staff, Police State USA (Oct. 2014). (“I never in my wildest dreams thought something like that could happen in this country.”)

This Teacher Gives Money From His Own Pocket To Feed His Hungry First-Graders. Gregoire, C., Huffington Post (Sep. 2014).

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. 2014 Annual Report. (pdf)

Black teen in white foster home pepper-sprayed by police who mistook him for burglar. Kaufman, S., Raw Story (Oct. 2014).

Consensus: 97% of climate scientists agree. NASA. (“Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.” And the other 3% are either employed by the Koch brothers or work at Jeezus-y places. -Ed.]

Germany is killing its economy – and Europe’s, too. O’Brien, M., The Washington Post (Oct. 2014). [It's the austerity, stupid. -Ed.]

The Homeless – 39 Questions For Your Reflection. O’Connor, M., Kindness Blog (Oct. 2014).

For the Palace Quote collection:

weirdosareyourtribeWhen you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of “Me, too!” be sure to cherish them. Because those weirdos are your tribe. -Sweatpants&Coffee (via)

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NOTÍCIA: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Can liberalism be saved from Sam Harris?

Ooh, look, everybody. It’s Sam Harris saying some shit with no idea what he’s talking about. (Again.) In a post on his blog entitled Can Liberalism Be Saved From Itself? written in response to some altercation with Ben Affleck on the insufferable Bill Maher’s show, Harris is as determined as ever to blame the supposedly unique evils of Islam for jihadist terrorism. As it turns out of course, there are people (not named Sam Harris) who actually know a great deal about Islamic radicalization and terrorism, including:
  • The U.S. Defense Science Board Task Force;
  • MI5’s behavioral science unit;
  • forensic psychiatrist and former CIA officer Marc Sageman;
  • political scientist Robert Pape;
  • international relations scholar Rik Coolsaet;
  • Islamism expert Olivier Roy; and
  • anthropologist Scott Atran.

You see, these people—or experts, as the scientifically literate like to call them—have all “studied the lives and backgrounds of hundreds of gun-toting, bomb-throwing jihadists and they all agree that Islam isn’t to blame for the behaviour of such men.” (Yes, unfortunately, they’re almost exclusively men.)

I am not inclined to do a truly thorough fisking of Harris’s latest piece, partly because it is unworthy of my attention. Or anyone’s attention, really, because just like his fellow Horsedouche Richard Dawkins, he can never, ever be wrong about anything. More importantly, his writings are far too tedious—just achingly, agonizingly annoying—to render such an exercise any fun at all. Life is short, people. Today I have other priorities way more entertaining (like taking my recycling to the trash chute down the hall). But for my beloved Loyal Readers™, I will magnanimously take on one paragraph, as I think it reveals quite enough:

As I tried to make clear on Maher’s show, what we need is honest talk about the link between belief and behavior.

No, dear. What we need is honest and informed talk. What this means, of course, is that we can safely dismiss the opinions of people like Sam Harris who bravely ignore demonstrable facts and informed opinions. (Seriously, does this d00d get his information from frothing-at-the-mouth, wild-eyed “experts” on Fox News?)

And no one is suffering the consequences of what Muslim “extremists” believe more than other Muslims are.

This is true—a fact which should lead those concerned with the well-being of people in the Muslim world to investigate the actual causes of extremism, particularly the psychological, economic, cultural and structural factors that spawn it. To that end, in 2004 then-Shitweasel of Defense Donald Rumsfeld commissioned a report (pdf) from the Defense Science Board Task Force, which concluded (among other things):

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies. (p. 40.)

The report goes on to describe a litany of intersectional factors that support that conclusion in great detail, some of which are specifically relevant to Harris’s claims here (see below), and all of which refute his entire thesis. Just read page 40 of the report to halfway down 41, and you too can have the same understanding that the George W. Bush-era U.S. Defense Department did. This alone will immediately make you more knowledgeable on the subject than Sam Harris, who goes on to say:

The civil war between Sunni and Shia, the murder of apostates, the oppression of women—these evils have nothing to do with U.S. bombs or Israeli settlements.

From the same report:

Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states. (p. 40) [emphasis added.]

NOTE: unlike most Americans, the majority of people of the Muslim world are under no illusions about exactly what the U.S. has been doing in the region—including supplying “friendly” tyrannical regimes with U.S. made weaponry. Unsurprisingly, the report continues:

American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims…What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. (p. 40) [emphasis added.]

Harris continues:

Yes, the war in Iraq was a catastrophe—just as Affleck and Kristof suggest. But take a moment to appreciate how bleak it is to admit that the world would be better off if we had left Saddam Hussein in power.

Perhaps Sam Harris might take a moment to appreciate how bleak it is to admit that the world would be better off if the U.S. had not put and kept Saddam Hussein in power and armed his regime for so long? I’ma just state the bloody fucking obvious here: any thought that begins with “Yes, the war in Iraq was a catastrophe” followed by the conjunction “but” can be rejected out of hand. There is no silver lining there (unless you are an oil company). And especially not for Sam Harris to use the tragedy of possibly the most strategic military blunder the U.S. has ever made to slam the evil Muslims, as opposed to, oh I dunno, say, decades of U.S. foreign policy in the region.

Next, Harris says about our longtime ally Saddam Hussein:

Here was one of the most evil men who ever lived, holding an entire country hostage.

Yes. Over just ten years under Saddam’s regime:

  • Iraqi civilian death counts range from 250,000 to over one million, based on the most reliable estimates.
  • almost two million Iraqis—some 10% of the population—became refugees from their country (arguably the largest refugee crisis in Middle Eastern history).
  • five million were “internally displaced”—read: rendered homeless.
  • infrastructure and social fabric of Iraqi society was completely demolished, unleashing sectarian violence the likes of which Iraq had never before seen.
  • Unsurprisingly, chronic psychological trauma and post-traumatic disorders are widespread.

Oh wait, no. Those are the consequences of the U.S. invasion and occupation, which astute readers may recall were sold to the U.S. public with deliberate lies by the Bush administration, with an able assist from their servants in the media.

That Saddam sure was evil, though. The evilest, like, EVAR.

Finally, Harris says this:

And yet his tyranny was also preventing a religious war between Shia and Sunni, the massacre of Christians, and other sectarian horrors. To say that we should have left Saddam Hussein alone says some very depressing things about the Muslim world.

Why, it’s almost as it Harris has no concept of history, let alone the known causes of radicalization and terrorism—by Muslims or otherwise. He is also apparently under the bizarre impression that either (a) leaving Saddam Hussein “alone,” or (b) destroying the entire country and the lives of millions of innocent people, were the only two paths available to the richest, most militarily advanced country in the world—ever. That speaks for itself.

Glancing at my feeds, I see that others have already taken on more of his latest rant, in which they will have found many more examples of his historical and scientific ignorance, petty histrionics and easily demolished factual inaccuracies. (For a takedown of Ben Affleck’s part in this clusterfuck, and without endorsing all of it, see here.)

If I seem rather irritated by this story, well, that’s because I am. I am disinterested beyond words in any panel discussion about Islam and terrorism between three wealthy, Western, white d00ds—with zero connection to Muslim communities, with not even a minimal grasp of the extensive scholarship on the subject of radicalization and terrorism—having a dick-measuring contest on national TV. Anyone paying them the slightest bit of attention on this subject really ought to ask themselves: why? Now if you will excuse me, after the tedious simplicity of debunking Sam Harris’s pet hobbyhorse, I am excitedly looking forward to inspecting my bellybutton for lint.

I will leave you with one question: Can liberalism be saved from Sam Harris?

Hahaha! I kid, I kid! Thanks almost entirely to Democrats (e.g. the Clintons, Barack Obama, Steve Israel, Steny Hoyer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, etc.), the “liberal” media, and of course “liberals” like Sam Harris, liberalism in the U.S. has been dead for a very long time.

Have a nice day.

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* For those who may be interested in honest and informed talk on the subject of Islamic radicalization, jihadist movements and Muslim terrorism, please see:

Recent reading.

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A First: Uterus Transplant Gives Parents A Healthy Baby. Chappell, B., NPR (Oct. 2014). [This is awesome news! We need to start implanting uteri into anti-choice men a.s.a.p., people. Free abortion clinics will suddenly become as ubiquitous as Starbucks! -Ed.]

A New Nuclear Arms Race: Why Peace Activists Must Wage an Open Battle Against the Democratic Party. Tucker, S., Truthdig (Oct. 2014).

Former SC GOP director: Execute anyone who comes into contact with Ebola — ‘it’s just math’. Kaufman, S., Raw Story (Oct. 2014). (Also: “The people of Africa are to blame for why it’s so shitty. They could stop eating each other and learn calculus at any time.” “We should put Wendy Davis’ vagina in charge of the Ebola outbreak. It will kill all of them without mercy and go to Nordstrom’s afterwards.” Well, he seems nice. Also: I’d like a vagina with these superpowers now plz. Because OMG Nordstrom’s! HELLO? -Ed.)

A Look Inside the Fake Abortion Clinics That Are Greatly Outnumbering Real Ones. Figueroa, A., AlterNet (Oct. 2014). (“Your tax dollars are funding religiously affiliated, medically inaccurate centers focused on preventing women from accessing abortion services.”)

An Orangutan Learns to Fish. Jabr, F., The New Yorker (Oct. 2014).

Indiana trooper pulled over woman to ask if she’d accepted Jesus Christ as her savior: lawsuit. Gettys, T., Raw Story (Oct. 2014). (“Indiana State Police said there was no specific policy against troopers handing out religious materials.”)

Louisiana Parish Claims Incarcerated 14-Year-Old Consented to be Raped by a Corrections Officer. McDonough, K., AlterNet (Oct. 2014). (“These girls in the detention center are not Little Miss Muffin,” remarked one official.)

Cops Pulled Gun, Tasered Passenger During Traffic Stop: Suit. Lutz, BJ. et al., NBC Chicago (Oct. 2014). (VIDEO -may start playing automatically at the link).

2013 World Happiness Report. Helliwell, J. et al, eds. (pdf).

Right-Wingers In NC Public Schools Indoctrinating Children With Bible Classes. Anonymous, Crooks & Liars (Oct. 2014).

Why Aren’t Women Advancing At Work? Ask a Transgender Person. Nordell, J., New Republic (Aug. 2014) (“Having experienced the workplace from both perspectives, they hold the key to its biases.” Very interesting. -Ed.)

Ayn Rand’s Continued Influence Adds a Bizarre Twist to Conservative Politics. McMurry, E., AlterNet (Oct. 2014). (“Despite her clearly psychopathic theories and actions, she is still celebrated by leading right-wingers.”)

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

20% discount at sneak preview before art auction!

Loyal Readers™ may recall my recent post entitled If this is not sacrificing your daughter on “the alter of men,” then nothing is, in which I thoroughly lambasted a shitweasel of the Christian clergy persuasion for extolling the reasons why he would absolutely not be sending his now five-year-old daughter to college. (TL;DR version: ain’t godly for wimmenz to ever be anything but obedient wives and stay-at-home mothers. What a truly unique perspective.) Anyway Secular Woman wanted to cross-post it. Awesome! Only trouble is, they like to have graphics accompanying their articles, and I had none—at least none that hit the right note when the topic is religious gender-based oppression.

All I can say is that it sure is a good thing I am a world-renowned artistic genius, because of course I totally came through:

girlcross“Girl on Cross”
Iris Vander Pluym (2014)
Oil on canvas. 100 ft. x 50 ft.

As they typically do with most of my large-scale work, Sotheby’s has priced it at $10,000,000.00 (minimum bid). But! Until it actually goes on the auction block—the transit logistics are still up in the air, something to do with helicopters and cranes and shutting down vast swaths of midtown in order to move the piece from Perry Street to 72nd and York Avenue—I am pleased to offer it to my readers for the low, low price of only $8 million!

(Shipping not included.)

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 Photo credit: background altar image by DAVID ILIFF, under license CC-BY-SA 3.0.