Truly a mystery for the ages.

A headline in The Washington Post naturally caught my eye: Why pregnant women in Mississippi keep dying. I clicked the link hoping—I know, silly me!—that I might learn, you know, why pregnant women in Mississippi keep dying?

“The U.S. maternal health community doesn’t know exactly why,” [Priya] Agrawal, [executive director of Merck for Mothers] said. A number of factors may exacerbate the problem, which she called a human rights crisis.

Weird. I’m not part of the “maternal health community” by any stretch, and yet even I know exactly why pregnant women in Mississippi keep dying. [Our for-profit healthcare system. Aww shit I’m sorry. I meant to say: SPOILER ALERT!]

Despite heavy spending, the United States was one of just eight countries to see a rise in maternal mortality over the past decade, ranking 60 for pregnancy-related deaths on a list of 180 countries, according to research last year from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Other countries that also saw a rise in maternal mortality included Afghanistan, Greece, El Salvador and South Sudan.

We are number 60! GO USA!

The United States is the only advanced economy in the world with a rising maternal mortality rate.

American exceptionalism FTW. Makes me so proud. :D

Deaths related to childbirth in the United States are nearing the highest rate in a quarter-century. An estimated 18.5 mothers died for every 100,000 births in 2013, compared with 7.2 per 100,000 in 1987. This means a woman giving birth here is twice as likely to die than in Saudi Arabia and three times as likely than in the United Kingdom.

And it turns out that Mississippi is totally THE WORST.

Mississippi’s maternal mortality rate, one of the highest in the country, has been climbing for more than a decade. From 2010 to 2012, the last measure, an average of nearly 40 women died for every 100,000 births. Risk varied drastically by race: The rate for black women, 54.7, was much higher than the rate for white women, 29.3.

Mississippi, for example, did not expand Medicaid, leaving 107,000 people — nearly half of whom are women — with no insurance options at all, according to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. It also has the country’s lowest physician-to-resident ratios: 159.4 doctors for every 100,000 people.

Thanks for ruining the curve FOR EVERYONE, racist Mississippi. You’re making us all look bad compared to that Mecca of women’s rights, Saudi Arabia. (OMFG see what I did there? I crack myself up!)

The cost of care for pregnant women, meanwhile, has sharply risen. The average cost of delivery here has nearly tripled since 1996, according to a Truven Health Analytics analysis for the New York Times. Maternal and newborn care make up the largest category of hospital payouts for most insurers and state Medicaid programs. Our country’s approximate four million annual births cost more than $50 billion.

Call me cynical (hahaha. unapologetically guilty.) but does the medical-industrial-complex—that would be the exact same medical-industrial-complex that routinely denies abortion doctors the admitting privileges required under state TRAP laws—have an interest in forcing women to give birth?

I think I’ma stir my cocktail with a coat hanger tonight. Cheers.

Nepal.

nepalflagWith mounting horror, the Palace has been monitoring the situation in Nepal in the wake of a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The death toll is at least 2,100 and expected to climb, as most areas outside of Katmandu have been impossible to reach. The iconic Dharahara tower came crashing down and the ancient temples in Durbar Square are in ruins; more than a hundred people died at that site alone. And the damage isn’t done: a 6.7 magnitude aftershock happened today at noon local time.

FBBIf you have the means and the inclination, please show the world what an evil atheist asshole you are by kicking a few bucks to Foundation Beyond Belief’s Humanist Disaster Recovery Drive for Nepal. If you are unfamiliar with the organization, note that Foundation Beyond Belief does not retain any portion of donations you make to its beneficiaries—all of which are strictly secular.

Palace flags are at half-mast, and our hearts go out to the people of Nepal. A few dollars from the Palace coffers are headed their way too. Please do what you can to help.

Major Award: Protestor Pilot of the Week.

It’s only Wednesday but we feel quite confident calling it early: Doug Hughes is the recipient of Perry Street Palace’s highly coveted Major Award® for Protestor Pilot of the Week:

On Wednesday, Hughes, a 61-year-old mailman from a small town on Florida’s Gulf Coast who dearly wants campaign finance reform, flew his fragile little ultralight gyrocopter through some of the most closely protected airspace on the planet and landed it on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. He called it Project Kitty Hawk.

Project Kitty Hawk. Hahaha. Awesome.

He said he felt compelled to do what he could to halt corruption in the nation’s capital. He attached a big U.S. Postal Service insignia to the aircraft fuselage, loaded it onto a trailer last Friday, and drove north. He would not go postal, but rather airborne, to deliver 535 letters to members of Congress urging them to tighten the rules on money in political campaigns.

 …

Hughes, who was spurred to political activism by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision striking down limits on campaign donations by corporations and unions, wrote on his blog that he hoped his “special delivery” stunt would “change the narrative” and bring voters together to insist on “honest government. . . . Corruption in Washington, D.C. has robbed the U.S. citizens of the representative government that is our birthright.”

The letters Hughes was carrying said he was “declaring a voter’s rebellion.”

doughughesflyingOMFG this guy.

While Loyal Readers™ may recall a righteous rant or two on the surreal horror show we all now live in known as the land of Citizens United, I offer this as a refresher:

[The] shitweasel majority on the high court overturned a century of precedent and decades of campaign finance reform laws, essentially holding that corporations = people, and corporate cash = protected speech under the First Amendment. These twin delusions are massive affronts to democracy, logic and reality, so easily debunked even a young child could do it…

‘Cause here’s the thing: corporations are not people.

CORPORATIONS. ARE. NOT. PEOPLE.

For one thing, unlike people, they can potentially live forever. That makes them immortal. You know, like vampires. Or possibly tardigrades. But definitely not like people…unlike people, corporations cannot be put in prison for the crimes they commit:

prisonpopincrease[h/t Sally Strange via Cory Booker]

So these “people” are immortals who are never subject to the same rules of law and justice as everyone else. Is any of this starting to sound to you like a zombie movie yet?

With Citizens United, the right-wing douches on the Supreme Court were only getting started. And in truth, America’s Owners hardly needed the Supreme Court’s imprimatur: neither the banksters nor the defense industry have ever been in any real danger of losing control of the US treasury or foreign policy, at least not in my lifetime. Now, though, in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, not only are corporations people, they can actually be religious people, they can be laughably wrong and willfully ignorant religious people, they can enforce their laughably wrong and willfully ignorant religious views on their employees, and they can ignore laws they don’t like. Unlike, say, actual fucking people. (And no, the Lizard People like Dick Cheney and his ilk do not count—the fact that these creatures have not been dragged before a tribunal at the Hague and locked up in jail forever only further illustrates my point about actual fucking people.)

Therefore, we hereby bestow upon Doug Hughes the Perry Street Palace Major Award® for Protestor Pilot of the Week:

doughughesmajorawardWe sincerely hope that Mr. Hughes succeeds in sparking his voters rebellion. Indeed, we applaud and support any person who risks life, limb and certain arrest in nonviolent protest of gross injustice, evil and/or epic ratfuckery. (After landing at Capitol Hill, Hughes just sat in his open cockpit for a minute until Capitol Police surrounded him; he was arrested without incident). But we have exactly zero optimism that this grand gesture is anything but futile. When future generations of the United States (if indeed there are future generations of anything remotely resembling the United States) look back on the travesty that is government in our age and wonder what the fuck we were doing instead of marching around DC with pitchforks*, they will find in the pages of The Washington Post the heroic story of one Doug Hughes, and come to realize #notallcitizens.

Speaking of The Washington Post, it should surprise no one that the critical context and enormous implications of Mr. Hughes’ spectacular stunt are barely touched upon, let alone critically analyzed and professionally mocked. The Washington Post is the very definition of “establishment media,” and thus we can expect never to see anything printed in its pages beyond the stifling, narrow range of permissible discourse that so well serves the conservative, corporatist and corrupt status quo.

Of course, the failed Fourth Estate is one reason why the Palace has the Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ it does. From the same article:

Air defense systems did not detect the copter as it entered restricted airspace above Washington, according to a North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman. No one tried to stop the gyrocopter, which sounds like a lawnmower and looks like a flying bridge chair.

Air Force Maj. Jamie Humphries, a NORAD spokesman, said the authorities are investigating why NORAD was not made aware of the gyrocopter until after it had landed on the Capitol grounds.

“We are trying to determine the why, but I can say we did not scramble assets,” he said.

Jeezus Haploid Christ. If you would be so kind to indulge me, please allow me to call your attention to two very relevant facts.

Fact 1: The United States spends more on defense than the next eight countries combined.

usdefensespendingApparently $640 billion is simply not enough to stop a d00d with a lawnmower chair strapped to his ass from landing on the Capitol lawn. I mean come on, this shit mocks itself, people! Defense: yer dooin it rong.

Of course in Federal Government Speak, “defense” does not actually mean, you know, defense; it means something else entirely, an inconvenient fact made even more painfully obvious by this very story. What is truly surprising is that as of this writing The Washington Post has yet to print an op-ed by someone arguing that this latest mailman gyrocopter incident only proves the urgent need to triple the “defense” budget.

Fact 2: Doug Hughes, Winner of Perry Street Palace’s highly coveted Major Award® for Protestor Pilot of the Week, is Surveillance State FAIL No. 6,427,336. (Or something close to that number—frankly it’s hard to keep count.)

You see, Mr. Hughes announced his exact plans a year ago on his blog, then in his hometown newspaper, and in a video posted online by The Tampa Bay Times.

doughughesDoug Hughes, being awesome.

Further:

Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said that in October 2013, “a concerned citizen” told the agency about someone who wanted “to land a single manned aircraft on the grounds of the United States Capitol or the White House.” Leary said Secret Service agents in Florida interviewed Hughes the next day and conducted “a complete and thorough investigation.”

Then about a year ago:

after Doug Hughes published his plan on his Web site, a Secret Service agent in Florida questioned both Hughes and a friend of his, Mike Shanahan, the Times reported. Hughes told the agent that he did own a gyrocopter, which he kept at a small airport in Wauchula, Fla., and that he had been planning a dramatic gesture to focus attention on campaign finance reform.

The Times said the same agent visited Hughes’s workplace, the post office in Riverview, Fla., a couple of days later and asked co-workers about him. But there was no further contact from the Secret Service, Hughes told the newspaper.

See, this is what we Super Savvy Media Types® call “burying the lede.”

The United States has long been assembling a vast and unaccountable domestic surveillance apparatus; one that, despite the justifications and claims lies to the contrary by our highest government officials, has never prevented a single terrorist attack. Unlike The Washington Post, we have called attention to this inconvenient (and highly fucking relevant) fact at every opportunity. For example:

What we do know is that terrorist attacks have indeed been thwarted—by ordinary citizens. Despite NSA’s massive surveillance operations, Richard Reid, the would-be “Shoe Bomber” managed to get a bomb on board an American Airlines flight to Miami. When he tried to set it off, passengers smelled smoke, subdued him and bound him up. Hello? NSA? Hello?

Then, with their amazing and vast surveillance powers and a heads up from CIA, US intelligence officials actually let suspected al-Qaeda collaborator Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab board a flight to the US. They were planning to let him into the states, too: they knew he was coming, but refused to let his visa be revoked. Unfortunately, he had a bomb in his underwear on the flight. Fortunately, passengers subdued him, too. Thanks, NSA.

Then there was Faisal Shahzad, the would-be “Times Square Bomber.” A t-shirt vendor noticed smoke coming out of an awkwardly parked SUV and alerted a mounted police officer, who called for assistance. The area was safely cleared and the bomb was defused. Law enforcement investigated over the next few days and narrowed in on Shahzad as the prime suspect. They put his name on the No Fly List (which even a known al-Qaeda collaborator wasn’t put on). Still, Shahzad was nonetheless able to buy a ticket to Dubai with cash at JFK airport, and board the plane. The flight was a few minutes from takeoff before the authorities caught up with him. The plane returned to the gate and he was arrested without incident.

T-shirt vendor: 1. NSA surveillance: 0.

For a more recent and far more devastating example, consider the Boston Marathon Bombers. The U.S. government was tipped off twice [!] about Tamerlan Tsarnaev by the Russian Federal Security Bureau. He had been on a terrorist watch list for eighteen months [!!!] before he and his brother set off bombs that killed three people and injured 264 others at the scene. Way to go, NSA. Really.

All of which is to say that in at least these four instances, the NSA’s invasive surveillance did not, in fact, Keep Us Safe™.

Again, the only thing surprising here is that as of this writing The Washington Post has yet to print an op-ed arguing that this latest mailman gyrocopter incident proves the urgent need to triple the surveillance budget, too.

So hearty congratulations to Doug Hughes, Citizens United protestor, pilot and patriot, who simultaneously protested the twin grotesqueries of US “defense” policy and its enormous, worse-than-useless surveillance state, however unwittingly.

Today we drink to you, sir. Although frankly we were going to drink anyway. See: ALL OF THE ABOVE.

red&whitewinecheersCheers.

__________
*The answer to the question of what the fuck we were doing instead of marching around DC with pitchforks is no doubt complex, but I’m pretty sure a sizable part of it is “watching men’s sporting competitions.”

In which I become a Christian again!

As Loyal Readers™ may recall, I was born and raised a Christian—first Catholic, later Lutheran—but it never really stuck. As a young teen I came to question, then doubt, eventually disbelieve and finally loathe religion. And not just the Jeezus-flavored variety, but all of it, right down to the very mildest of lefty New Age silliness. (Except for Lord Shiva. OBVIOUSLY.) In other words I am 100% on board with Palace Patron Saint PZ Myers who put it this way:

I don’t target particular religions for bad conclusions — I detest them all for having bad methodologies.

But people, I am here to tell you: I was deceived. And very probably by Satan himself! Yes, everything I was ever taught about Jeezus was wrong, wrong, wrong. Tragically, the very nature of the Christ god and the beautiful, joyful essence of Christianity was denied me. For I have just come unto the Lord, and am eager and fully prepared to spend the rest of my days worshiping Him. Behold, the truth, the light and the way:

SEXY JESUS

sexyjesus3DEAR GOD.

sexyjesusWHO’S YOUR DADDY!

sexyjesus2JUST A MINUTE, LORD! I’M COMING!

sexyjesus5NAO I IZ DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN.

And look, He even pooped me an Easter egg! sexyjesus4OMFG IRIS JEEZUS. SO HARD.

[h/t Aly]

Recent reading.

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Does Alan Grayson Want War With Iran? Naiman, R., The Huffington Post (Apr. 2015). [Alan Grayson is trying to break up with ME?! WTF. –Ed.]

Scientists: Psychedelic drugs ‘safe as riding a bike or playing soccer’. Richardson, H., Newsweek via Raw Story (Apr. 2015). [Also, IIRC waaaay more fun. –Ed.]

Psychologists Have Uncovered a Troubling Feature of People Who Seem Nice All the Time. Shim, E., Mic (Jun. 2014). (“people holding left-wing political views were less willing to hurt others. One particular group held steady and refused destructive orders: women who had previously participated in rebellious political activism such as strikes or occupying a factory.”) [Don’t get any ideas, people. I WILL TOTALLY FUCK YOU UP!!!11!!! –Ed.]

Researchers Discover Fossils Of A New Species Of Terror Bird. Thompson, B., Daily Science Journal (Apr. 2015). [h/t Vanina]

terrorbirdIris can haz dis terra berd nao plz.

First Hologram Protest in History Held Against Spain’s Gag Law. Baker, J. Revolution News (Apr. 2015). [Wow, Spain. –Ed.]

Meet Walnut, the crane who fell in love with her zookeeper. Hillenbrand, S., The Verge (Apr. 2015). [Awesome weirdness, PLUS weird awesomeness. –Ed.]

Long-Awaited ‘Jump’ In Global Warming Now Appears ‘Imminent’. Romm, J., Think Progress (Apr. 2015) [Today in WE ARE SO FUCKED. –Ed.]

Boycott, Divest and Sanction Corporations That Feed on Prisons. Hedges, C., Truthdig Apr. 2015). [h/t SJ]

U.S. secretly tracked billions of calls for decades. Heath, B., USA TODAY (Apr. 2015). [GTFO. –Ed.]

Fracking Town’s Desperate Laid-off Workers: ‘They Don’t Tell You It’s All a Lie’. Nieves, E., AlterNet (Mar. 2015). (“The boom and bust in North Dakota has trapped people there, with little hope of work or escape.”) [But…but…JOBS! –Ed.]

28 Majestic Owls Caught On Camera. Earth Porm (Apr. 2015).

owl-photography-27__880Yes.

Racism at Core of Native Teen Suicides in Pine Ridge. Fenton, D.A., Colorlines (Apr. 2015). (“Let’s be clear. These events tell Native children one thing: “Your lives are not valued. You do not have a place in the world beyond the reservation.”) [Fucking hell. –Ed.]

6 Ways to Keep Terrorists From Ruining the World. Wong, D., Cracked (Jan. 2015). [Suggested re-title: “6 Ways to Keep EVERYONE From Ruining the World.” –Ed.]

Thousands dead, few prosecuted. Kelly, K. and Kindi, K., The Washington Post (Apr. 2015). (“Among the thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police since 2005, only 54 officers have been charged, a Post analysis found. Most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that have been resolved.”) [TW: police violence.]

A letter from Mary Lucia. Lucia, M., The Current (Apr. 2015). [TW: stalking and harassment.]

VeinViewer Means No More Poking People Relentlessly to Locate Veins. Goyal, N., Industry Tap (Apr. 2015).

veinviewerIris can haz dis vane veewer nao plz.

Bystander Effect Also Found Among Five-Year-Olds. Jacobs, T., Pacific Standard (Mar. 2015). (“Little kids will help an adult, but if they’re in a group, they’ll wait to see if someone else volunteers first.”)

Hundreds of illicit oil wastewater pits found in Kern County. Cart, J., Los Angeles Times (Apr. 2015).

The dystopian lake filled by the world’s tech lust. Maughan, T., BBC (Apr. 2015).

13 Outrageous Acts By Drug War Cops Just This Week. Smith, P., AlterNet (Apr. 2015). [TW: police violence]

Guatemalans deliberately infected with STDs sue Johns Hopkins University for $1bn. Laughland, O., The Guardian (Apr. 2015). [TW: human rights abuses, hostility to autonomy and consent.]

Tales from the Trenches: I was SWATed. Harper, R., Randi-io (Apr. 2015). [TW: harassment and abuse.]

235 Anti-Choice Bills Proposed in State Legislatures Since January. Wilson, T., RH Reality Check (Mar. 2015). [*spit* –Ed.]

The “Special Snowflake” Syndrome of American Conservatives. Rachel191, Daily Kos (Apr. 2015).

How the U.S. spends more helping its citizens than other rich countries, but gets way less. Swanson, A., The Washington Post (Apr. 2015). (“Premature death for women in the U.S. is about on par with Mexico, which spends just $858 on health care per capita compared with nearly $8,000 per capita in the U.S.”) [VERY interesting. –Ed.]

__________

PLZ 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.

Off the charts.

Well. Sunday’s post about Time Magazine’s political quiz turned out to be even more amusing and informative than I could ever have predicted:

I fear that until I get this pestilence eradicated from the Palace, I may have to lock up everyone in quarantine—including, apparently, myself. But the whole exercise got me thinking about another quiz that’s been around for a while: the Political Compass. This one adds another axis to the left-right dimension, and outputs a four-quadrant grid with your position on it. When I took it a few years ago and wrote about it here, my results looked like this:

irispoliticalcompassIris the Lefty Libertarian. Quelle surprise.

At the time I mused:

I took the quiz years ago, and I do not remember my chart position.  It would be interesting to compare it to today, and see whether over time my views have drifted in one direction or another.  As you can see, in certain respects there is not much further I can possibly drift.

So I took it again yesterday BECAUSE SCIENCE, but it returned only a blank grid.

blankchartI thought there was a problem with the site itself. But no: the problem is that my results are now off the charts:

Economic Left/Right: -18.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.03

Technically my social score is on the grid—only barely—but its intersection with my economic score is…way off.

I am left wondering if this shift is because a few years more reading, writing, learning and thinking on my part has led to my feeling more strongly about positions that I previously held more tentatively. In other words, I may have drifted from “yes, I think so” (agree) to “I am quite certain” (strongly agree). In any case, here is what my results would look like if the Political Compass could handle the likes of Your Humble Monarch™:

irisnewchartWhatever you do, don’t tell the NYPD or the FBI. Or CIA. Or anyone at the Federal Reserve, the Bank of New York, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer or CitiGroup. I don’t need their ilk coming ’round the Palace. I already have enough problems with Mr. Born.

Eight percent awful—UPDATED.

UPDATED: See below.

An anthropology professor once told me that a quirk unique to Americans is that we generally love to take quizzes, polls and surveys. Perhaps this is true, although I never found it to be particularly true about myself: unless there is obvious potential for the results to inform or amuse me, I tend to blow right by them. The only exception is when they are political in nature: those clearly fall within the purview of the Palace’s world-renowned research program into the deadly scourge that is Conservative Personality Disorder. It would be irresponsible and unseemly of us to look away.

And so it was that I came across a Time Magazine quiz that purports to determine one’s political ideology based on answers to 12 questions about values and lifestyle. Based on work by Professor of Ethical Leadership at NYU’s Stern School of Business Jonathan Haidt (who we have mentioned before and with whom we have some disagreements), the quiz outputs a score from zero to one hundred, with zero being farthest left (liberal) and one hundred being farthest right (conservative). Loyal Readers™ will no doubt understand the shock and horror I felt upon seeing my results:

timequizresultsThat’s right, people: Your Humble Monarch® is fully 8% conservative!

Needless to say, because I understand the implications of that score probably more than any other human being on this planet, I am deeply disappointed and disgusted with myself. Among other things, this means that 8% of the time:

  • I am a raging racist, misogynist doucheweasel of epic proportions.
  • I hate poor people and blame them for their misfortune.
  • I want to privatize everything: prisons, healthcare, Social Security, the military.
  • Jeezus is telling me to run for office.
  • I am completely wrong, morally and factually, about everything.

It is this last point that is most troubling. If I ever think I have discovered the cure for conservatism, how can I possibly know that this isn’t one of those times (8%!) that my head is firmly planted up my ass? Worse, what if I have already discovered the cure—but wrongly discounted it for the same reason? This could set the entire research program back by years, if not decades. And that’s to say nothing of the deafening boom heard ’round the world when the Palace irony meter explodes.

I am devastated.

Wait a minute…perhaps what I am wrong about is this political quiz being all that meaningful or accurate? Mind: blown.

__________

UPDATE: Below are my results—you may not want to look at these until after you’ve taken the quiz, at this will almost certainly skew your answers. It may also leave you as baffled as I am as to exactly where that 8% figure came from.

Continue reading

Great news, or greatest news EVER?

AMNHlogo

 FTW.

Loyal Readers™ will no doubt recall that it was exactly one year ago today that we sent our research proposal to tardigrade expert Professor Bob Goldstein at his lab at UNC, requesting his urgent assistance in confirming my paradigm-shattering theory that if I consume enough of them, then I will become a virtually immortal extremophile like the tardigrades:

Dear Professor Goldstein:

I am a New York City-based columnist and blogger who usually writes about sex (I’m for it!) as well as politics and religion (I’m against ’em!), and who finds herself weirdly enamored with tardigrades. I also write to promote science, skepticism, and the sheer transcendent joy to be found in discovering the wonders of the natural world. To that end I maintain a virtual zoo on my personal blog, in which I have a tardigrade specimen named Schnoot.

If I sound like a kook so far, well you’re probably right but I hope you will bear(!) with me.

____________

Professor Goldstein, have you ever eaten tardigrades?

If yes:
What do they taste like?
Do you have any good recipes?
What wine pairing would you recommend?
Are you now immortal?

If no:
Are they poisonous or otherwise dangerous to eat?
Would you recommend that I cook them (over 303 degrees F of course!) before I eat them, or do you think I have to eat them live in order to become immortal?

__________

With many thanks and kind regards,
-Iris Vander Pluym

Inexplicably, as of this writing we still have not received a reply from Professor Goldstein. It’s like he doesn’t even want to share the Nobel prize with us. ?

tardigradeScnoot, Palace Zoo resident tardigrade.

But in a spectacular “coincidence” that can only be a sign to us from the Tardigrade Goddess herself, the American Museum of Natural History’s Life at the Limits exhibition opens today, featuring—you guessed it—tardigrades!

I feel quite optimistic that unlike that big meanie Professor Goldstein, the exhibition’s curators Mark Siddall and John Sparks will feel honored and humbled to participate in the Palace’s important work on obtaining immortal extremophile superpowers for myself. Now I don’t want to blow their minds with too much too fast, so please keep this to yourself: I am also working on a rather promising inquiry into the youth-regenerating properties of axolotls. Two of these amazing neotenic creatures currently reside in the Amphibian wing of the Palace Zoo; unfortunately, I cannot in good conscience eat them as they are a critically endangered species. That’s where my new BFFs Mark Siddall and John Sparks come in: to help me establish a wild breeding population on the Palace grounds.

Because SCIENCE, motherfuckers.

[h/t Mr. Born]

Reads.

library4

10 Situations Where Christian Bakers Should Refuse To Bake Wedding Cakes. Corey, B.L., Patheos (Mar. 2015). (“we need to have the courage to radically expand our discrimination as we apply the Bible to everyone but ourselves.”) [No cake for you! Or you! You either! –Ed.]

CIA Torture Whistleblower: Wake Up America, You’re Next. Abby Martin interview of John Kiriakou, Media Roots (Mar. 2015). (VIDEO)

Costa Rica is now running completely on renewable energy. Epstein, A., Quartz (Mar. 2015). [Yes we can’t! -Ed.]

Starbuck’s CEO Just Made A Shocking Announcement That Has Christians Standing Up For Their Faith. Rachel, Q Political (Mar. 2015). [Shocking. LOL –Ed.]

Forget terrorists — be terrified of Harperites. Siddiqui, H., The Star (Mar. 2015). (“Stephen Harper’s government wants us to be terrified of terrorists, niqabis, criminals, thieves, etc. But it’s the Conservatives we should be scared of.)

Women on 20s. (“It’s our mission to generate an overwhelming people’s mandate for a new $20 bill, to be issued in time for the 100th anniversary in 2020 of the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.”) [What are you doing lounging around the Palace? Go vote! -Ed.]

“You Grow Up Wanting to be Luke Skywalker, Then Realize You’ve Become a Stormtrooper for the Empire”. Crimmins, D. via Garret, Upriser (undated). [An amazing piece of writing from an Iraq veteran. -Ed.]

Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories. Ferdman, R.A., The Washington Post (Mar. 2015).

France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panelAgence France-Presse via The Guardian (Mar. 2015).

If Motivational Posters Were For People Who Hate People. Bailey, L., BuzzFeed (Feb. 2015). [I hate people, and I can attest that these posters are totally for me! -Ed.]

everyoneistheworstEven in nursing, no equal pay for women. Rapaport, L., Reuters (Mar. 2015).

Virtual reality is coming to sex, sports and Facebook. della Cava, M., USA Today (Mar. 2015). [h/t SJ]

Big Bank’s Analyst Worries That Iran Deal Could Depress Weapons Sales. Fang, L., The Intercept (Mar. 2015). [OH NOEZ!!! –Ed.]

Amazon’s trees removed nearly a third less carbon in last decade – study. Mathiesen, K., The Guardian (Mar. 2015). (“Fall in amount of carbon absorbed by rainforest means even greater cuts to manmade emissions are needed to combat climate change, warn scientists.”) [Today in We Are So Fucked. –Ed.]

Mother-Daughter Duo’s Photo Project Features 5-Year-Old as Iconic Black Women. Gilchrist, T., For Harriet (Mar. 2015). [Amazing and adorable. -Ed.]

If Purvi Patel delivered in hospital she could have declined neonatal care, but she delivered at home so faces jail. Gunter, J., Dr. Jen Gunter (Mar. 2015). (“So to be clear, had Ms. Patel delivered in a hospital she could have declined neonatal care had her baby been born alive. But because she delivered at home she is a criminal. Now tell me this wasn’t a reproductive witch hunt designed to both test the limits of Indiana law in curtailing reproductive rights and score points with pro-life donors and voters.”)

This Woman Says She Had A Miscarriage. Now She Could Face 70 Years In Prison. Culp-Ressler, T., Think Progress (Mar. 2015). (“Critics say there are a lot of issues with the way Patel’s case has unfolded over the past two years. For instance, Patel was first questioned in her hospital bed without a lawyer present. Expert witnesses could not come to consensus about the gestational age of her fetus. The prosecution relied on a highly unscientific method to try to determine whether her fetus was born dead or alive.”) [UPDATE: Purvi Patel was just sentenced to 30 years, with 10 suspended. -Ed.]

Two Cops Arrested for Beating 3-Month-Old Into Vegetative State; Baby Not Expected to Recover. Fairbanks, C., The Free Thought Project (Mar. 2015). [h/t Tony] [I can’t even. –Ed.]

Black Woman Locked In Psych Ward For 8 Days Because Cops Couldn’t Believe She’s A Businesswoman. Kerry-Anne, Addicting Info (Mar. 2015). [I. CAN’T. EVEN. –Ed.]

One Model Tried On 10 Different Pairs Of Size 16 Jeans And This Is What They Looked Like. Ospina, M.S., BuzzFeed (Jan. 2015).

This Photo Was Removed By Instagram. The Owner Writes A Powerful Open Letter In Response. Rupi Kaur via Chaudhary, S., Scoop Whoop (Mar. 2015).

Trillion Dollar Fraudsters. Krugman, P., The New York Times (Mar. 2015).

Shakespearean Insulter. [“Thou clouted fly-bitten boar-pig!” Hahaha. -Ed.]

Stunning Photos Reveal Beauty in Medicine. Live Science (Mar. 2015).

She’s back! Arizona legislator suggests church attendance should be mandatory. Mother Mags, Daily Kos (Mar. 2015). [Okay, player. –Ed.]

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For the Quote Collection:

I think America has the best assholes in the world. I defy the Belgians or the Japanese to produce something like a Donald Trump. –Matt Taibbi

Women have always been an equal part of the past. They just haven’t been part of history. –Gloria Steinem

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