Reads.

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“Down Outright Murder”: A Complete Guide to the Shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson. Devereaux, R., The Intercept (Nov. 2014).

After 13 years, 2 wars and trillions in military spending, terrorist attacks are rising sharply. Ingraham, C., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014).

As Sioux Tribe Calls Keystone XL an “Act of War”, TransCanada Hires PR Firm to Probe Critics. Democracy Now! (Nov. 2016) (with VIDEO).

Topless Femen deface Christian cross in Vatican. RT.com (Nov. 2014) (with VIDEO). (“Femen have taken their brash form of activism to shockingly new heights (or depths), simulating anal sex with crucifixes outside the Vatican to protest the Pope’s alleged meddling in politics.”) [Hahaha. Awesome. For a…different take, which I first thought was satire, see here. -Ed.]

Insecure Men Outraged That Smarter Man Recognizes Sexism And Apologizes to Women. Opal, K. (Nov. 2014). (“This is no longer about Matt & Rosetta. This is now about men being outraged that women made Matt reconsider…Matt Taylor apologized and moved on. But it seems that a lot of men were pissed off that a man apologized to women for having done something that perpetuated sexism.”)

Black students walk out over school official’s tweet: ‘Every white girl’s father’s worst nightmare’. Edwards, D., Raw Story (Nov. 2014). [Jeezus. -Ed.]

Lack of access to health insurance keeps U.S. premature birth rate near Somalia’s. Ingraham, C., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014). [USA! USA! USA! -Ed.]

Barbie F*cks It Up Again. Ribon, P., Gizmodo (Nov. 2014) [OMFG. LOL! -Ed.]
(related: Barbie computer engineer story withdrawn after sexism row.)

Surprise! The war on abortion rights is actually a referendum on women’s “place” in society. A group of protesters explain why they believe motherhood is the only and most important choice for women. McDonough, K., Salon (Nov. 2014) (with VIDEO). [Wow! I am so surprised! -Ed.]

The Rehtaeh Parsons Verdict Just Set a Horrible Precedent for Rape Victims Everywhere. Plank, E., Mic (Nov. 2014).

Transgender activists seek laws, acceptance, to combat violence. Guilbert, K., Reuters (Nov. 2014).

Congress Is Irrelevant on Mass Surveillance. Here’s What Matters Instead. Greenwald, G., The Intercept (Nov. 2014).

Sexual Surveillance of Women is a Consequence of Conservative Norms, Not Liberal Social Mores. Chemaly, S., Huffington Post (Nov. 2014).

Canadian Mother Gives Birth While On Vacation In The U.S., Faces $1 Million Hospital Bill. Culp-Ressler, T., Think Progress (Nov. 2014).

A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA. Erdely, S.R., Rolling Stone (Nov. 2014).

Geckos inspire ‘Spider-Man’ gloves. BBC News (Nov. 2014).

Who Profits From Poverty? Films for Action/The #GlobalPOV Project (Nov. 2014) (VIDEO). [h/t nubs]

Why No One Can Design a Better Speculum. Eveleth, R., The Atlantic (Nov. 2014). (“The gynecological device may have an ethically fraught history, but it’s hard to improve on the design.”)

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For the Quote collection:

A lot of times, the simple answer to the specious question, “Why would he do something like that?” is, horribly, “Because he can.” -Melissa McEwan

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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.

Recent reading.

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Jehovah’s Witness leader complains: Gay people are plotting to put everyone in ‘tight pants’. Garcia, A., Raw Story (Nov. 2014). (LOLOL! -Ed.)

Petitioning Girl Scouts of the USA: Re-model the Barbie brand Girl Scout doll to be realistic. Chiu, K., change.org (Nov. 2014). (“I was so upset to see the new official Girl Scout Barbie — a doll that does not represent the diversity or mission of the Girl Scouts, and which, of all possible things, is dressed in high-heeled hiking boots.” WHAT. -Ed.)

New York City police will stop making arrests for low-level marijuana possession. Francescani, C., Reuters via Raw Story (Nov. 2014).

Notes from a Pornographer on Sexist Sexual Imagery and Behavior. Christina, C., Freethoughtblogs (Nov. 2014). (“The idea that sex-positivity and sexual liberation means everybody expressing every sexual thought and acting on every sexual desire, the minute it pops into our heads — this is bullshit.”)

The Psychology of Spanking. [No, not the fun kind. -Ed.] (“eliminating corporal punishment of children is ‘a key strategy for reducing and preventing all forms of violence in societies.’”)

How the drug war blocked research into a promising experimental PTSD therapy​: ecstasy. Ehrenfreund , M., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014). (“Initial research suggests MDMA, used in the party drug ecstasy, could be a powerful treatment for veterans dealing with the trauma of war.”)

The flying of unauthorized drones at stadiums prompts safety concerns. Whitlock, C., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014).

Buy Your Daughter All the Butch Dolls You Want, She Still Won’t Be Able to Get an Abortion in Texas. Vargas-Cooper, N., The Intercept (Nov. 2014). (“We should disabuse ourselves of old ideas, especially this hold-over notion from the baby-boomer generation that somehow social institutions can be jammed, subverted, reformed, or overthrown through buying stuff.”)

MIT’s Crazy Materials Could Make for Self-Assembling Ikea Furniture. Flaherty, J., Wired (Nov. 2014).

Why Washington Continues to Beat the War and Disease Drums: Escalation is now a structural fact embedded in the war in the Middle East and the Ebola crisis here at home. Engelhardt, T., The Nation (Nov. 2014).

Clashes at protest over Mexico student deaths: Masked protesters, demonstrating over suspected killing of 43 students in September, clash with riot police in Acapulco. Al Jazeera (Nov. 2014).

The Tiny Police Department in Southern Oregon That Plans to End Campus Rape. Van Syckle, K., The Cut (Nov. 2014).

Soleá, the Flamenco of Seville. The New Yorker (Nov. 2014). [VIDEO.]

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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.

Recent readz.

library4The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare. Taibbi, M., Rolling Stone (Nov. 2014). [Important reading, especially for anyone who mistakenly believes the U.S. is a democracy operating under the rule of law. -Ed.]

Top 10 Jesus Pranks. JUST FOR LAUGHS GAGS via youtube. [h/t SJ] [OMFG LOL. -Ed.]

Forget the 1%. It is the 0.01% who are really getting ahead in America. The Economist (Nov. 2014). (“Rising wealth inequality could presage the return of an 18th century inheritance society, in which marrying an heir is a surer route to riches than starting a company.”)

Nigel Farage’s new friend in Europe: ‘When women say no, they don’t always mean it’. Graham-Harrison, E., The Guardian (Nov. 2014). [I swear this article reads like an Onion satire, and this Janusz Korwin-Mikke d00d comes off like a comic book supervillain—and yet people vote for him. He says there is no proof Hitler knew about the Holocaust, and that Mussolini was trying to protect Jews; also FYI “the attitudes of men are passed to women by way of the semen which penetrates the tissue”; and he wants to convert part of the EU headquarters into a giant brothel. WHAT. He might actually be onto something legit about abolishing democracy, though, since it gives power to people like him. -Ed.]

Life Size Tyrannosaurus SkeletonHammacher Schlemmer (Nov. 2014). [Grab this year’s hottest holiday gift for each of your friends and family for the low, low price of $100,000! Treat yourself to one, too. -Ed.]

trex
CHAPPIE – Official Movie Trailer. Sony Pictures Entertainment via youtube (in theaters March 2015). [OMG OMG OMG I LOOOOOVED Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 and Elysium—plus there is no such thing as “enough Sharlto Copley.” -Ed.]

Even if you believe women “should” like cat-calling, that’s no excuse to do it. Marcotte, A., Raw Story (Nov 2014). (“My boyfriend doesn’t like eggs. My mom doesn’t like punk rock. These are things I like. Do I react to this difference of opinion by constantly shoving eggs in his face or blaring punk rock at her while saying, ‘You SHOULD like it and I’m going to KEEP DOING IT until you learn to like it!’ No, that would make me an asshole. So even if you think women should like being hollered at all fucking day—and again, I recommend having someone text you banalities 100 times a day to make sure you really think that it’s so wonderful getting all this attention before you open your fool mouth again on the subject—women told you they don’t like it. Persisting is clearly just an effort to hurt and punish them for not giving you what you want.”)

Separating Church and State Still an Issue in the US. Bader, E.J., Truthout (Nov. 2014). [h/t SJ] [Christ. This is just what we need: theocracies. Dear Lard, won’t someone think of the children? -Ed.]

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For the Quote collection, a new acquisition from the late, great Carl Sagan, whose birthday is today:

“If some good evidence for life after death were announced, I’d be eager to examine it; but it would have to be real scientific data, not mere anecdote. As with the face on Mars and alien abductions, better the hard truth, I say, than the comforting fantasy. And in the final tolling it often turns out that the facts are more comforting than the fantasy.”
Please join the Palace’s Carl Sagan Day celebration in The Bar today, where we will be serving Pale Blue Martinis.
bluemartini-with-twist-david-thompsonPHOTO: Blue Martini with Twist, David Thompson.
The Carl Sagan Pale Blue Martini:
Grey Goose vodka, Blue Curacao, fresh lime juice, twist.
Cheers for a man who inspired so many people to pursue science, skepticism and critical thinking. Our pale blue dot is a better world for having had him on it.

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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.

Reads.

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Federal appeals court rules in favor of gay marriage ban. Sewell, D., ABC-TV Eyewitness News (Nov. 2014).

Americans Are Working So Hard It’s Actually Killing People. Kaplan, E., The Nation (Oct. 2014). (“businesses are not hiring new workers; they’re just expecting the old workers to work more, and spitting them out after they get injured.”)

Despite Election Losses, Obama Still Sees Hope For Bipartisanship. McMorris-Santoro, E., BuzzFeed (Nov. 2014). (Dear Lard, we are soooo fucked. -Ed.)

Could a common blood pressure drug completely reverse diabetes? Medical News Today (Nov. 2014).

Why Feminism Needs Men. Solnit, R., The Nation (Nov. 2014).  [h/t SJ]

The 5 Most Important Things They Never Taught You in Sex Ed. Thomas, M., Cracked (Nov. 2014).

Bats Make Calls to Jam Rivals’ Sonar—First Time Ever Found. Arnold, C., National Geographic (Nov. 2014).

Adam Savage on #Gamergate and Harassment of Women Online. Watson, R., Skepchick (Nov. 2014). [with VIDEO.]

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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.

Recent reading.

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First transformer flying car ready for production. RT.com (Oct. 2014). [with VIDEO] (“world’s first production-ready flying car, which transforms from an automobile to a plane in just several seconds, has been unveiled to the public in Vienna.” OMG WANT. -Ed.) [h/t nubs]

Sentencing reform and how to right the drug war’s wrongs. Steigerwald, L., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014). (“One of the more fascinating, though politically unrealistic suggestions for what to do about this mess is one offered by a Green Party candidate for governor of New York: Howie Hawkins suggests releasing all drug prisoners, and putting together a “panel on reconciliation” between them and their communities and governments. They want voting rights restored, school grants restored, help for children of the former cons, and prevention of would-be employers asking about criminal histories.” We will of course be voting for Mr. Hawkins today for governor of New York. -Ed.)

Henry Darger. Wikipedia (see also: Google image search). (“famous for his posthumously discovered 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript called The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, along with several hundred drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating the story.” Just…wow. -Ed.) [h/t The Blue Hoodie.]

He Never Hit Me. Amit, R., Huffington Post (Oct. 2014). [TRIGGER WARNING: intimate partner abuse.]

Pink Upholstered Vagina Couch. Best of Craigslist (Jan. 2008). [with IMAGES.] [h/t Stacey]

Verizon, AT&T tracking their users with ‘supercookies’. Timberg, C., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014).

A staggering 400 million birds have vanished from Europe since 1980. Mooney, C., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014).

JPMorgan’s foreign exchange trade under investigation by Justice Dept. Agence France-Presse via Raw Story (Nov. 2014). (“raised its estimate of related legal costs by $1.3 billion to $5.9 billion.” My, that sure seems like a lot of money. Incidentally, the bank’s profits were $22 billion in 2013—and that’s after shelling out tens of billions in legal costs. -Ed.]

Hackers Could Decide Who Controls Congress Thanks to Alaska’s Terrible Internet Ballots. Friess, S., The Intercept (Nov. 2014). (“Alaska’s first-in-the-nation internet voting system is a security nightmare that threatens to put control of the U.S. Congress in the hands of hackers.” You know, I’d rather take my chances on the hackers than have control of the U.S. Congress in the hands of America’s Owners and other conservative critters. -Ed.]

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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.

Have a nice day.

palacehappyface

 

Palace Zoo welcomes Black Rain Frog.

amphibiansThe Palace is pleased to announce the addition of a Black Rain Frog (Breviceps fuscus) to the Amphibian collection in our world-renowned zoo. Because OMG FACE!

blackrainfrogPhoto: ©2004 Robert C. Drewes (with kind permission).

This species was brought to our attention via an article in The Dodo entitled Meet the World’s Grumpiest Frog, which contains several closeup portraits of the little critter making a bunch of frowny faces. But it turns out that this frog is not particularly grumpy at all, neither in temperament nor, in our opinion, facial cues. Like many animals do when they’re frightened or under attack, the black rain frog will puff itself up in size in an attempt to ward off its enemies, rendering it actually quite adorable:

blackrainfrog2Photo: Beneke74 via iSpot.

The black rain frog is native to the Southern coasts of Africa, where it hangs out in temperate forests among shrubby vegetation. The species burrows into the forest floor and make tunnels as deep as 6 inches (150 mm) underground. The male stays there to guard developing offspring—hey, that’s a nice trick you have there, female B.fuscus! (These feminist frogs would obviously make terrible Baptists.) Unlike most frog species, black rain froglets grow to maturity without a water-dwelling phase. And the ladyfrogs have another trick: adhesive amplexus. What the hell is “adhesive amplexus,” you ask? Well, during mating season the female secretes from specialized glands on her back a sticky substance that keeps the male from slipping off of her during intercourse. Until she is damn good and ready, and decides she has had enough. Hahaha. Awesome.

Mostly nocturnal ground dwellers well-adapted to living in underground burrows, black rain frogs fill a unique niche in their environment and thus do not compete extensively with other species in the forest ecosystem. They are threatened by habitat loss, although fortunately, not urgently so.

amphibianslbl

Reading.

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Wrinkles in Spacetime: The Warped Astrophysics of Interstellar. Rogers, A., Wired (Oct. 2014). (“Most Interstellar viewers will see these images—the wormhole, the black hole, the weird light—and think, ‘Whoa. That’s beautiful.’ Thorne looks at them and thinks, ‘Whoa. That’s true.’”)

World’s Longest Snake Has Virgin Birth—First Recorded in Species: An 11-year-old reticulated python produced six babies without mating. Qui, L., National Geographic (Oct. 2014).

School Shooter Identified as Freshman Football Player. The Wall Street Journal via Associated Press (Oct. 2014).

GM’s hit and run: How a lawyer, mechanic, and engineer blew open the worst auto scandal in history. Penenberg, A.L., Pando Daily (Oct. 2014).

S4E7 – #GamerGate. Olson, D., Chez Apocalypse (Oct. 2014). (“A look at Base Assumptions as a critical tool as applied to the GamerGate movement.”) (VIDEO) (FIVE STARS. -Ed.)

Palestine2Ferguson Contingent Shows Power of Unity. US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (Oct. 2014).

There’s a surprisingly strong link between climate change and violence. Mooney, C., The Washington Post (Oct. 2014). (“Bottom line: In an ever warming world, expect more wars, civil unrest, and strife, and also more violent crime in general.”)

Easter Islanders also made voyages to the New World. Graham, K., Digital Journal (Oct. 2014). (“Rapa Nui people met with early South Americans, well before Europeans came visiting.”)

Entitlement Culture War. Thibeault, J., FreeThoughtBlogs (Oct. 2014).

You already have bed bugs. Now get ready to deal with rat mites. Holmes, D., Pando Daily (Oct. 2014). (Jeezus. -Ed.)

Which Foods are the Worst for the Environment? Berger, M., The Weather Channel (Oct. 2014).

20 Things New Yorkers Older Than 40 Did. And will never do again. It was a great time to be a New Yorker. copyranter, BuzzFeed (Jul. 2013). [h/t Josephine.]

Houston Man Charged with Raping Teen, Toddler, Both of Whom Now Have HIV. Edwards, B., The Root (Oct. 2014). [TRIGGER WARNING: rape, child sexual assault.]

Evo Morales: A Bolivian idol. Bolivia’s president talks about the country’s ongoing socio-economic transformation and his third term in officeAl Jazeera (Oct. 2014).

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For the Quote collection:

I have no regrets – in fact, I am pleased to have expelled the US ambassador, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and to have closed the US military base in Bolivia. Now, without a US ambassador, there is less conspiracy, and more political stability and social stability. Without the International Monetary Fund, we are better off economically. -Evo Morales, Bolivian President

When the United States was in control of counternarcotics, the US governments used drug trafficking for purely geopolitical purposes …. The US uses drug trafficking and terrorism for political control …. We have nationalised the fight against drug trafficking. -Evo Morales, Bolivian President

Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy. -Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under the Nixon and Ford administrations

The issues are too important to be left for the voters. -Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under the Nixon and Ford administrations

Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.” … But since the Freedom of Information Act, I’m afraid to say things like that. -Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under the Nixon and Ford administrations

I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. -Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under the Nixon and Ford administrations (Meeting of the “40 Committee” on covert action in Chile 27 June 1970)

Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. -Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under the Nixon and Ford administrations

America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests. -Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under the Nixon and Ford administrations

It is not a matter of what is true that counts, but a matter of what is perceived to be true. -Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under the Nixon and Ford administrations

The war is just when the intention that causes it to be undertaken is just. The will is therefore the principle element that must be considered, not the means… He who intends to kill the guilty sometimes faultlessly shed the blood of the innocents…In short, the end justifies the means. -Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under the Nixon and Ford administrations

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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.

Reads 4 U.

 

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Now the UN is intervening in Detroit’s water conflict. Could thirsty cities riot? Burns, R., The Guardian (Oct. 2014). (“Angry protests over water provision have shaken cities around the world, and may determine whether access to clean drinking water is a taxable municipal service – or a basic human right.”)

George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason. Fitrakis, B. and Wasserman, H., Common Dreams (Aug. 2014). (“Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the same settlement he helped sabotage in 1968.“)

IT HAPPENED TO ME: I’ve Been Forced Out Of My Home And Am Living In Constant Fear Because Of Relentless Death Threats From Gamergate. Wu, B., XOJane (Oct. 2014).

Whites riot over pumpkins in NH and Twitter turns it into epic lesson about Ferguson. Kaufman, S., Raw Story (Oct. 2014). (This is Twitter being fucking awesome. -Ed.)

NYPD Assault Arrest Musician for Playing a Song Even After Verifying He Hadn’t Broken Any Laws. Rules, C., The Free Thought Project (Oct. 2014).

World’s First Urban Algae Canopy Produces the Oxygen Equivalent of Four Hectares of Woodland Every Day. Brooks, R., Inhabitat (Jun. 2014).

Against Carceral Feminism. Law, V., Jacobin (Oct. 2014).

Patriarchy’s Magic Trick: How Anything Perceived As Women’s Work Immediately Sheds Its Value. Leopard, Crates and Ribbons (Dec. 2013). (“women are not devalued in the job market because women’s work is seen to have little value. It is the other way round. Women’s work is devalued in the job market because women are seen to have little value.”)

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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.

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.

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: