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.

With Dems like these, Part 9,427,303.


Running as a Dem, sounding like a Republican

It’s one thing for Democrats running in red parts of the country to sound like Republicans on the campaign trail. It’s another when Democrats running in purple or even blue territory try to do so.

Yet that’s what’s happening in race after race this season.

Democrats are trotting out campaign ads that call for balanced budgets, tax cuts and other more traditionally GOP positions. Some of them are running in congressional districts that just two years ago broke sharply for President Barack Obama.

Whether the Democrats running in those districts can survive what party strategists acknowledge is a deteriorating national political environment will largely hinge on how well they can appeal to more conservative voters.

Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff, who’s running in a district that Obama won in 2012 and 2008, has started airing a commercial that strikes a tea party theme.

New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, whose district broke for Obama by a yawning 11-percentage-point margin in 2012, is running an ad that touts her support for small-business tax cuts while showing her touring a local microbrewery. Separately, former Iowa state Sen. Staci Appel, in a district Obama won by 4 percentage points two years ago, underscores her record of fighting overspending in state government, a populist theme often heard from tea party-aligned conservatives.

Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, in a swing southern Arizona district that is slightly more conservative than the others, uses his first TV spot to highlight his support for increasing border security funds. The ad — complete with the image of a border patrol car — doesn’t mention elements of immigration reform that are typically more popular among Democratic voters.

Like the commercials aired by Romanoff, Kuster and Appel, Barber’s doesn’t mention his Democratic Party affiliation.

That’s right, people: Democrats are apparently attempting to win elections even in districts that went for Obama by appealing to conservative and Tea Party voters. This effort is doomed for a number of reasons, not least of which is that given a choice between a Conservadem and an actual Republican—no matter how crackpot or corrupt—conservative voters will pick the Republican every time. These are people who think Obama is a socialist, FFS. And meanwhile, given a choice between a Conservadem and a Republican, alienated liberal voters will stay home.

Now this strategy may seem spectacularly stupid to you (for good reason), but that can be true only if you think the leadership of the Democratic party actually wants to elect progressive Democrats to congress, or indeed win a Democratic majority at all. Since the Politico article excerpted above quotes anonymous “party strategists” as sources, I think it’s worth reviewing the Palace archives for what we know about some of these fine people.

Steve Israel, Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) since January 2011 (hand-picked by Nancy Pelosi); co-chair and founder of the Center Aisle Caucus since 2005.

Along with his BFF Illinois Republican congresscritter Tim Johnson, Steve Israel co-founded the Center Aisle Caucus (or “caca,” as I call it). Caca claims roughly sixty members, although the number is impossible to verify because membership is sooper seekrit. Caca members fancy themselves “defiant centrists” (or “conservatives,” as I call them). This would be terrible enough considering how far to the right the so-called “center” has drifted. But it’s really much worse than that: caca members observe an unwritten bylaw to never engage in political campaigns against other caca members. If sixty members is about right, that takes roughly thirty congressional races right off the table for the Dems, courtesy of… the chair of the DCCC.

Neither the DCCC nor its PAC spent a single dollar on Democrat Jim Graves’ campaign against Michele Bachmann, Tea Queen of Right-Wing Kookville, in a winnable race. Michele Fucking Bachmann. Instead, they poured an average of $1,710,159 into each campaign of a slate of conservative Democrats (“Blue Dogs” and “New Dems”) running against Republican backbenchers and nobodies. Likewise, neither the DCCC nor its PAC gave a single cent to Rob Zerban, the progressive Democrat running against Paul Ryan—Paul Ryan!—(a.k.a. Satan) in yet another winnable race.

“As Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, it’s my job to support the strongest Democratic challengers running for Congress.”
-DCCC Chairweasel Steve Israel in a fundraising email to Iris Vander Pluym, July 28, 2014.

Hahaha. Sure it is, d00d.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC); Florida congresswoman.

A few years ago Wasserman Schultz was chosen to head the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” program, a job that consists entirely of targeting Republican-held districts across the country that are potentially within reach for Democrats. What did she do? She protected three right-wing Florida Republicans, and publicly sabotaged the campaigns of the three Democrats running against them. The donor backlash was so fierce that after a lot of hemming and hawing, the DCCC finally had to cut her loose from the Red to Blue program. So the party leadership gave her a promotion: that’s how she came to head the DNC.

I wrote about one of her brilliant leadership initiatives here, wherein she urged supporters to vote on one of three awe-inspiring designs for car magnets:

DNCdesigns“Not a Republican.” Jeezus.

Is the Democratic leadership incompetent? Again, perhaps you can make that case, but only if you think the power center of the Democratic party actually wants to elect progressive Democrats, or even win an electoral majority at all.

Occam’s Razor suggests an entirely different view. Three actually, although they are interrelated. First, up until Michele Bachmann announced her retirement, I’d bet that she was the single largest cash generator for the Democratic Party in history. Nearly every Dem campaign email had her name in it; she was the gift that kept on giving to the coffers of the DCCC every time she opened her mouth (“Did you hear X outrageous thing Bachmann said now?! OMG send money!”). In the runup to the 2012 presidential election, the role of Bachmann the Bogeyman was played by Satan Paul Ryan, who is once again the star of the Democratic shit show. Here’s a recent popup ad on The Nation site:

paulryanDCCCA second benefit for the DCCC in keeping these shitweasels in power is that they are so far off the right-wing rails they make these craven, corporatist, conservatives that Steve Israel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are determined to shoehorn into the House Democratic caucus look like flaming Marxists by comparison. It’s a losing strategy, especially in midterm elections, and everyone knows it.

Which brings me to my third observation, and underlies the first two: I think the parties agree on more than they say they do. A lot more. As I said before:

In the case of Paul Ryan, however, they want him in Congress for reasons that go well beyond scaring the Democrats on their email lists into forking over a few bucks, and even beyond making their awful budget priorities appear liberal by comparison to Ryan’s. In a rare slipup in which we rubes got a little peek behind the curtain, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-Wall $treet) received a rather telling tweet from his spokeperson, Brian Fallon:

fallonschumertweetBrain Fallon: “.@ChuckSchumer: It’s nice to see Paul Ryan back on Capitol Hill. It’ll be even nicer to see him back in House full-time after the election”

At the time, digby noted: “I’m sure Schumer really does want Ryan back in congress. They have so many ‘interests’ in common.” Indeed they do. Schumer’s Wall $treet benefactors are as eager to get their hands on the Social Security trust fund purely for profit reasons as Paul Ryan is eager to give it to them for ideological ones.

morpheusDespite having caused the financial crisis, the same financial firms “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they, frankly, own the place.”
-Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), 2009 radio interview.

More Palace Library acquisitions.

I’ve got a new piece up at TPJ Magazine, and another one appearing shortly at Secular Woman (I’ll link it here once it posts). I’m also working on a looooooong-winded piece about…stupid. The word, the concept, its substance and intersection with conservatism, the nature of a beast that has puzzled, challenged and nearly destroyed humanity on many occasions, and in all likelihood will ultimately prevail.

Meanwhile, for your edification and/or infotainment:

The federal government’s own statistics show that marijuana is safer than alcohol. Ingraham, C., Washington Post (Jul. 2014). (“marijuana is significantly safer to use than alcohol.”)

Top 9 Ways to Not Get Raped. Elford, S. et al, (Jul. 2014). (“stay away from those who commonly commit assaults: strangers, family members, friends, partners, spouses, co-workers, bosses, clients, teachers, doctors, teammates, and police officers. Be extra careful during peak times when rapes occur i.e. daytime, nighttime, dawn, afternoon, early evening, tea time, nap time…”)

NASA tests ‘impossible’ no-fuel quantum space engine – and it actually works. Templeton, G., Extreme Tech (Aug. 2014). [WHAT. -Ed.]

Outrageous Attacks on Supporters of Church-State Separation: Death Threats, Murdered Pets, and Vandalized Property. Lee, A., Daylight Atheism (Jun. 2014).

The New Face of Hunger: Millions of working Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from. McMillan, T., National Geographic Magazine (Jul. 2014). (“One-sixth of Americans don’t have enough food to eat.”)

Rape sentence reduced over ‘willing victim’. (Aug. 2014). (“The life sentence of a man who repeatedly raped an 11-year-old girl he regarded as ‘a daughter’ was reduced on appeal…because she seemed to be a willing partner.”)

Study: People Lie to Women in Negotiations. A Lot. Aran, I., Jezebel (Aug. 2014). (“found that women are viewed as easy to mislead and therefore less competent in negotiations. Because of this bias, negotiators (regardless of sex) are more likely to deceive women in order to seal a deal.”) (the research paper on which this article reports is here, unfortunately behind a paywall).

But WHAT CAN BE DONE: Dos and Don’ts To Combat Online Sexism. Alexander, L., (Jul. 2014).

The Leader of the Unfree World. Ford, M., The Atlantic (Jul. 2014). (“Mass incarceration, perhaps the greatest social crisis in modern American history, is without parallel on a global scale.”)

6 Holocaust Survivors Who Fight Against Israel’s Treatment of Palestinians. Halper, K., AlterNet (Aug. 2016). (“The lesson of the Holocaust should be “never again” for anyone, including Palestinians.”)

What I Learned After Taking a Homeless Mother Grocery Shopping. Martinez, S., Babble (Aug. 2014).

Has Ebola mutated?

I read with great interest this headline, quoting some d00d I never heard of named Rick Wiles:

Rick Wiles: ‘Ebola Could Solve America’s Problems With Atheism And Homosexuality’

Wow! I thought. This must be some new strain of the virus that makes Americans less conservative shitty people! Turns out the d00d hosts a radio show called Trunews—so it must be, you know, true. He went on to say this:

End Times radio host Rick Wiles said that an outbreak of Ebola in the U.S. might actually be a good thing if it ends up giving an “attitude adjustment” to all the gays and atheists, along with people who use pornography or have had an abortion, who will die if they aren’t “protected by God.”

“If Ebola becomes a global plague, you better make sure the blood of Jesus is upon you, you better make sure you have been marked by the angels so that you are protected by God. If not, you may be a candidate to meet the Grim Reaper.”

Oh. So this guy is a total flaming asshole, then.

Never mind. Forget I said anything.

Frank Zappa, plus.

For some reason, I have been thinking about the late, great American iconoclast Frank Zappa, and decided to add a few (more) of his quotes to the long-neglected Palace Library collection. Here they are—along with a few other recent acquisitions.


I like to watch the news, because I don’t like people very much and when you watch the news… if you ever had an idea that people were really terrible, you could watch the news and know that you’re right. -Frank Zappa

My best advice to anyone who wants to raise a happy, mentally healthy child is: Keep him or her as far away from a church as you can. Children are naive — they trust everyone. School is bad enough, but, if you put a child anywhere in the vicinity of a church, you’re asking for trouble. -Frank Zappa

Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe. -Frank Zappa

The richest people in the world aren’t particularly smart or happy. And the happiest people in the world aren’t particularly smart or rich. -Frank Zappa

The biggest threat to America today is not communism. It’s moving America toward a fascist theocracy, and everything that’s happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe. -Frank Zappa

The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. -Bertrand Russell [anticipating Dunning-Kruger by more than six decades]

Women are described in animal terms as pets, cows, sows, foxes, chicks, serpents, bitches, beavers, old bats, old hens, mother hens, pussycats, cats, cheetahs, bird-brains, and hare-brains…‘Mother Nature’ is raped, mastered, conquered, mined; her secrets are ‘penetrated,’ her ‘womb’ is to be put into the service of the ‘man of science.’ Virgin timber is felled, cut down; fertile soil is tilled, and land that lies ‘fallow’ is ‘barren,’ useless. The exploitation of nature and animals is justified by feminizing them; the exploitation of women is justified by naturalizing them. -Karen J. Warren, Ecological Feminism (via agentmaya) [h/t Vanina]

If you haven’t anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me. -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

I’ve always believed in the adage that the secret of eternal youth is arrested development. -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both. -Theodore Roosevelt, in response when a dignitary asked if he could better control his daughter.


Announcements + Acquisitions.

[CONTENT NOTE: ableist language; slut-shaming.]

Lest you worry that we have been ignoring you, beloved Loyal Readers™, fear not! Behind the scenes we have been working furiously, as ever, toward a better Palace, a better Internet and a better world. We have been away this week on a Sooper Seekrit mission, which is not yet ready for Palace prime time. Stay tuned.


If you’ve been asking yourself what the Internet is missing, I am confident that you have already come to the same conclusion I did: more Iris Vander Pluym. To that end, I am honored to announce that I have accepted an invitation to write regularly for a new project at Secular Woman called The Secular Woman Salon, “a new outlet on our website for the latest in opinion, think pieces, and news for secular women, as well as anyone interested in advancing the cause of social justice with a secular lens.” Opinions! Think pieces! News! OMFG I haz them! 

This opportunity came along at the right time for me, as I’ve lately found myself really missing writing for the (now-defunct) Feminist Hivemind. It’s not that I don’t post secular/feminist-centered pieces at the Palace—of course I do—but my participation in an online community, one focused specifically on intersectional feminism and social justice through a secular lens, kept me not only inspired and informed, but also challenged me to bring my A-game to writing about these issues. Both the critical feedback and camaraderie were invaluable to me, and made the Hivemind an extraordinary experience; I am excitedly looking forward to learning from and working with a new group of talented writers at Secular Woman. Check them out here, and if you are so inclined, please give us a shout-out via your social media. My first post there will probably appear in the next week or so, and I will link it here when it does.

SecularWomanlogoLoyal Readers™ may be amused to find there a three-quarter head shot of Your Humble Monarch™, the first ever posted. Because of the unremitting harassment, vile threats and horrific abuse to which feminists (and their loved ones) are routinely subjected for the unconscionable crime of saying feminist things on the Internet, I have deliberately kept a pretty low profile as far as my image and visibility are concerned. So when Secular Woman asked me for a head shot, I gasped audibly. To their credit, they graciously said they would permit me to use any image or avatar instead—they totally get it—but after I thought about it, I took it as an opportunity to take a teeny, tiny, baby step in the direction of…well, I don’t know what. But now that it’s out there and there is no way to take it back, I feel like I’ma just roll with it, and see how it goes.

Readers who have met me in person will probably have a good laugh at this. (Believe me, so did I.) My goal was that you would recognize me from this picture if you already knew me, but you wouldn’t necessarily be able to pick me out on the street very easily if you did not…

Behold, the face of Iris Vander Pluym:

irisheadshotHeh. None of this will stop dedicated haters, of course. But at least I had fun: picture me sitting on the floor in front of a full-length mirror holding my iPhone over my head, against a glamorous backdrop of hotel bedding strung from the mini-kitchen. And trying desperately not to giggle, without much success. (“Hey, you’re a serious writer, dammit! Stop laughing right now! *makes a serious face* “Oooh, VERRRY SEERYUS.” *giggles uncontrollably*. It was a looong day.)


Here are some recent Palace Library acquisitions you may find infotaining, including a few for our fabulous annex in the Bedroom.

PLEASE NOTE: Linking does not imply the Palace’s 100% endorsement of content.


FISA court judges buying Verizon stock as they approve NSA surveillance. (Jul. 2014).

Top 10 Things to Say When You Meet a White Person. Indian Country Today Media Network (Jul. 2014). (“I learned all your people’s ways in the Boy Scouts.”)

Ladies who don’t use contraception have had it with you 99% that do, you dirty girls. Marcotte, A., Raw Story/Pandagon (Jul. 2014). (“Considering how few women don’t use contraception, they appear to have managed to get a quote from each and every one of them.”)

Texas open carry advocates fume after ‘skanky topless libtards’ disrupt pro-gun rally. Kaufman, S., Raw Story (Jul. 2014). (“Boobs for peace.”)

How I Overcame My Soul-Crippling, Deep-South Addiction to Whiteness in 5 Steps. Odell, J., Alternet. (“In Mississippi, the drug of choice is racial superiority. But there are ways to kick the habit.”)

Anti-abortion fanatics invade a church service. Where’s the outrage? Abcarian, R., The Los Angeles Times (Jul. 2014).

Expel Palestinians, Populate Gaza with Jews, Says Knesset Deputy Speaker. Abunimah, A., Global Research (Jul. 2014).

It Turns Out Hamas May Not Have Kidnapped and Killed the 3 Israeli Teens After All. Zavadski, K., New York Magazine (Jul. 2014). (“Israeli intelligence is also said to have known that the boys were dead shortly after they disappeared, but to have maintained public optimism about their safe return to beef up support from the Jewish diaspora.”)

Dead Gazans Missing From Senate Endorsement of Israeli Invasion. Kelly, A. R., Truthdig (Jul. 2014). (“On Thursday, all 100 U.S. senators—including progressives Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken and Sherrod Brown—voted to pass an AIPAC-drafted resolution supporting the Netanyahu government’s military invasion of the Gaza Strip.”)

Decrying “Brutal Operation Taking Place in Our Name,” Israeli Military Reservists Refuse to Serve. Democracy Now! (Jul. 2014). (VIDEO: Amy Goodman interview of Yael Even Or. Transcript available at the link.)

Woman’s ‘Cards Against Harassment’ Campaign Fights Everyday Chauvinism. Sola, K., Mashable (Jul. 2014).

Rust Devastates Guatemala’s Prime Coffee Crop And Its Farmers. Kahn, C., The Salt (Jul. 2014).


Adult Material.
You must be 18+ to hang out in the Palace Bedroom.

(if you are not 18+ and looking for resources on sex and sexuality, go here.)
Some links = NSFW.

Hair does not make the woman, Sarah Ditum. Melby, M.A., The TransAdvocate (Jul. 2014).

Unwanted arousal: it happens. Nagoski, E., Medium (Jul. 2014). (“what science says about those times when your genitals respond to stories of sexual violence.”) (TW: sexual violence.)

Why I’m Still a Butch Lesbian. Urquhart, V. V., Slate (Jul. 2014).


Happy weekend!