Vacation Iris.

My partner and I have not had a real break in a loooong time, so we’re headed where the WIFI may be spotty (I may or may not post anything for a week or so), but the rum cocktails will be abundant. It will be glorious! Unless the fucking squirrels show up and RUIN EVERYTHING, of course. So if you kind people could just keep them distracted for a minute while I make my getaway, I would really appreciate it.


Happy birthday PZ!

pz2016It is once again the time to mark the joyous occasion of The Great Tentacled One’s completion of another orbit around our sun. Longtime readers of mine may recall that in February of 2011, PZ Myers published my little screed In Defense of Mockery on Pharyngula. At the time I was a fledgling blogger, and hardly knew whether I might be any good at this writing stuff. That boost of confidence—and the readers I gained that day—meant the world to me then, and now. By 2013 when PZ posted Casualties of War, I had come a long way in a short time, thanks in no small part to his generosity and encouragement. But this past year? He brought some serious next-level shit, man: he invited me to write for Freethought Blogs (!!!). For all of this and more, PZ has my undying affection and appreciation.

Today I will be celebrating the good professor by imbibing squid ink cocktails and copious amounts of calamari.

Happy birthday, my friend.

Long may we mock.

squidinkcocktailBarchetta’s Spezia cocktail.
vodka, caper brine and squid ink, whole caperberry garnish


Now normally on these sacred occasions, I’d post some of PZ’s more trenchant blurbs, culled from his writings over the previous year. Just a sentence or two that strike me, like this one (perhaps my all time favorite):

[I]magine the culture we would live in now if, instead of a dead corpse on an instrument of torture, our signifier was a child staring in wonder at the stars. –PZ Myers

But in the past year the world has changed. For example, US government policy is now orchestrated by a madman via 140 character tweets in the middle of the night (Eastern Standard Time). So in keeping with the zeitgeist, please enjoy these pithy bon mots from the master:

Fuck you, Grandma. –PZ Myers

I could be quite happy with an octopus arm transplant. –PZ Myers

Stop me before I #ChristianMingle. –PZ Myers

So fuck the police. –PZ Myers

I’ll smack hope a few more times with a ball peen hammer and see if I can’t get it under control. –PZ Myers

OK, motherfucker, then do it. –PZ Myers

Stoned fish are so much more cooperative. –PZ Myers

I’ve made it on to the list! I feel so appreciated. –PZ Myers

Hate is a strong word, but not strong enough for my feelings.-PZ Myers

Go fuck yourself. –PZ Myers

Hear, hear.

Iris: MIA.

Hello, beloved readers. You may have discerned my absence from this space for a little while now, which is not typical for me. Seems that perhaps some sort of explanation is in order.

I’ve been going through some difficult personal shit. Without getting into specifics, processing trauma and abuse—even many years later—is not exactly easy or fun, but it becomes absolutely critical when the unfortunate manifestations blindside you (again), seemingly out of nowhere. Suffice it to say that I have an amazingly supportive partner, a tight circle of friends (i.e. “chosen family”), and a skilled therapist* to guide me. In the meantime however, I am finding it very difficult to focus, concentrate and opine for your infotainment upon the vital and timely topics of fascist doucheweasels, patriarchal shitheads, racist conservatives, treasonous theocrats, native-born white d00ds in local bars suggesting an upside to the day’s news out of DC, terrorist squirrels and other assorted menaces.

Then again, I only have one rule—and one rule only—for posting: whatever I want, whenever I want.** So here, have some of that. Continue reading

Buy my totes, people. 40% off!

This is your semi-regular reminder that the work I do here—and yes, it is work—is not without its costs, timewise and otherwise. So I am making it easy for you to buy cool stuff, and then you buy it! I get a (small) cut, and you get cool stuff. WIN-WIN.

40% off all tote bags through Sunday

Just look at these beauties! Huh? HUH?!


Do your part to shake humans from their stupor and break the hypnotic spell of the enemy rodents carrying these striking totes—BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Continue reading

BREAKING: Iris joins Freethought Blogs!

Your Humble Monarch™ has a brand new blog—at Freethought Blogs!

Guess what it’s called.

Go ahead, guess!

Didja guess?





deathtosquirrelsbannerHahaha. I crack myself up.

It’s exciting, and a little scary. FtB is a bigger platform, with exposure to a much wider audience of readers. It’s also a HUGE troll magnet: there are some nasty denizens of the Internet dedicated to terrorizing Social Justice Warriors (especially feminists) generally, and to targeting the FtB community of bloggers and regular commenters in particular.

So I’m not yet sure whether or to what extent I will move the Palace to FtB. I rather like our cozy VIP arrangement here, don’t you? I mean, I also blog at Secular Woman, and while there is some overlap in readership and subject matter, no one seems to be put out. I cross-post some stuff there that seems appropriate and also create original content for them, and the same approach might work for FtB.

Right now of course, my #1 priority is to educate the FtB people on the urgent squirrel threat. And before I even consider moving some or all of my beloved Palace there, we obviously need to know whether these people can behave themselves in the bar, can be trusted not to feed the conservatives in the zoo and—most crucially—are not double agents for the fucking squirrels. (I already suspect a few of the commenters, and there could be many more lurking.)

I figure for now, I’ll just hang out at FtB too and see how it goes. Feel free to come visit me there if you’d like, maybe meet some new people and check out some of the other new bloggers they’ve added.

In solidarity,


Happy birthday PZ Myers.

pz2016It is once again the time to mark the joyous occasion of The Great Tentacled One’s completion of another orbit around our sun. Longtime readers will recall that in February of 2011, PZ Myers published our screed In Defense of Mockery on his blog Pharyngula. At the time, Your Humble Monarch™ was a fledgling blogger, and didn’t know whether she would be any good at this, you know, writing stuff, and find her own voice in the wilderness of Internet denizens. That boost of confidence—and the Many Tens of Loyal Readers™—we gained the day we were first published on one of our all-time favorite blogs meant the world to us then, and still does. In 2013 PZ posted our Casualties of War; by that time perhaps we had indeed found our voice, thanks in no small part to the encouragement of PZ. He will always have our undying appreciation and affection.

Thus we have duly decorated the Palace’s shrine to PZ, where squid ink cocktails and calamari will be served all day. Please join us in toasting the Patron Saint of Perry Street Palace.

Happy birthday, PZ.

Long may we mock.

squidinkcocktailBarchetta’s Spezia cocktail.
vodka, caper brine and squid ink, whole caperberry garnish


Some quotes to enjoy:

Supernatural explanations of natural phenomena are no longer outside the realm of nature, and are therefore subject to scientific inquiry. Just saying that your explanation for something is supernatural is not a get-out-of-science-free card. –PZ Myers

Most of what we believe isn’t derived from the pure and perfect reasoning power of our flawless brains — it’s learned by trial and error by brains that are often afflicted with stubbornly bad ideas. Like believing in gods, for instance. –PZ Myers

I like science, too, I know humans evolved, and I think logic is an excellent tool. It’s just that I also appreciate other ways of seeing the world (they’re inevitable, since we’re not robot clones), see evolution as a chaotic clusterfuck of chance with a ribbon of selection providing multiple ways forward, and also know that logic is a great tool for false rationalizations. –PZ Myers

Yes, we have a tribe. Only our tribe is interested in expanding and becoming more inclusive. Their tribe wants to close ranks and maintain the status quo, perpetuating inequities (and even denying the existence of those inequities). –PZ Myers

Religion is on the wrong side of history on far too many issues, and it’s entirely reasonable to point out when someone else is completely wrong, even if they’re going to interpret that as you being arrogant. –PZ Myers

 Cheers to that.

Various and sundry.

[CONTENT NOTE: homophobia.]

I don’t know how other writers’ brains work, but sometimes I ruminate over a subject for a good long while before writing about it. Case in point: the water in Flint. I’ve been following this disaster for some time now, and frankly the post would write itself. I mean, I could just follow the template from virtually any of my previous rants about conservative governance, search and replace a few words, and voilà! Done. For example:

Conservatives ruining lives as usual, this time in Myanmar Flint.

See? Easy-peasy. Maybe that’s a big part of my problem, that these stories are always the fucking same. That is because there is nothing new about conservatives or the ways they operate, ever. All we can really aspire to do is discover the cause of this epic calamity and hope that this will lead us to the cure, and in the meantime of course we can find new and amusing ways of mocking it. Alas, here too I’m running up against my own limitations. I am so utterly saddened and outraged by the entirely predictable and preventable situation in Flint that I cannot find that angle on the story. Yet.


Speaking of the cause(s) of conservatism

My friend (and self-proclaimed Loyal Subject™) SJ recently sent me a piece by Charles Simic in the New York Review of Books, entitled The Age of Ignorance. Simic laments what he sees as a dramatic uptick in ignorance and irrationality among the US citizenry over the past several decades, and the litany of specific delusions fervently believed by millions of conservatives: “Christians are persecuted in this country. The government is coming to get your guns. Obama is a Muslim. Global Warming is a hoax,” etc. He notes that:

The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit.

An educated, well-informed population, the kind that a functioning democracy requires, would be difficult to lie to, and could not be led by the nose by the various vested interests running amok in this country…A truly educated populace would be bad, both for politicians and for business.

At the root of all of this, Simic suggests, lies the destruction of public education and the failure of families to carry on a tradition of educating their young, with an able assist from a deceitful corporate media. He concludes that this might not be so bad, were it not for our lack of skill or even desire to verify whatever nonsensical bullshit the powerful vested interests are constantly feeding us. And all of that may be true: for example, a media literacy curriculum from grades K-12 would probably go a long way toward immunizing the populace from the worst excesses (which is precisely why it won’t happen).

But I think Simic misses the big, honking red-white-&-blue elephant in the room: faith. In fact, I think it’s pointless to discuss US conservatism without touching on it. I’m not talking about the specific dogmas of any particular sect—although those are plenty awful. I’m talking about faith as a way of thinking, the unfortunate habit of holding as truth any claim for which there is no evidence—and sometimes believing it all the more strongly when there is overwhelming evidence against it. I told SJ:

The very idea that you can “know” anything based on faith—and worse, that this is somehow indicative of an admirable character—leads to all manner of foolish gullibility and belief in demonstrably untrue nonsense. Conservatives actually fight at the school board level against the teaching of critical thinking (and its cousin, media literacy), for the same reason they gerrymander: because they and their toxic bullshit cannot win without doing so.

I linked to the abstract of a study (behind a motherfucking paywall goddammit) that appears to support my point. Researchers questioned 5- and 6-year-old kids about whether the central character in a story could be a real person. There were three scenarios: (1) “realistic stories that only included ordinary events,” (2) “religious stories that included ordinarily impossible events brought about by divine intervention” and (3) “fantastical stories that included ordinarily impossible events whether brought about by magic [or] without reference to magic…”. From the abstract:

 In realistic stories that only included ordinary events, all children, irrespective of family background and schooling, claimed that the protagonist was a real person. In religious stories that included ordinarily impossible events brought about by divine intervention, claims about the status of the protagonist varied sharply with exposure to religion. Children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school, or both, judged the protagonist in religious stories to be a real person, whereas secular children with no such exposure to religion judged the protagonist in religious stories to be fictional. Children’s upbringing was also related to their judgment about the protagonist in fantastical stories that included ordinarily impossible events whether brought about by magic (Study 1) or without reference to magic (Study 2). Secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional. The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories.

[emphasis added.]

The problem with “religious ideas” is not that they provide only a limited epistemology; it’s that faith-based thinking provides no way of ascertaining truth or reality at all. For some reason, more rational and reality-based people continue to scratch their heads at conservatives’ blatant hypocrisy, illogical contradictions and feverish falsehoods when faith-based thinking precludes none of that. It guarantees it.


Of course the ruling class does not see any of this as a problem; quite the opposite, in fact. And you can bet that we will see no public funding for studies that build on such research, for the same reason the CDC is forbidden by law from studying gun violence: this knowledge is decidedly not in conservatives’ interests.

By the way, Simic’s piece was published in March 2012, but could just as easily have run today for the relevance it has to the Republican’s scary clown show. Nothing’s changed in 4 years, and I’m not even convinced anything’s changed much in 40. And that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s the same fucking story, always and forever Amen.


Speaking of new and amusing ways of mocking conservatives…

A friend on Facebook linked to this:

Pastor: ‘I would smear feces all over myself if my son married a man’

While speaking at the National Religious Liberties Conference last weekend, Pastor Kevin Swanson told the crowd that he was “not kidding” when he said he’d smear feces all over himself if his son were ever to marry another man.

“I’d sit in cow manure and I’d spread it all over my body. That’s what I would do and I’m not kidding! I’m not laughing!”

“I’m grieving!” Swanson screamed, tears of rage running down his cheeks. “I’m mourning! I’m pointing out the problem!”

Now remember kids: it’s women who are more emotional and irrational than men. FYI.

“It’s not a gay time,” he continued. “These are the people with the sores! The gaping sores! The sores that are pussy (sic) and gross and people are coming in and carving happy faces on the sores! That’s not a nice thing to do! Don’t you dare carve happy faces on open, pussy (sic) sores!”

Now how the fuck does one even mock that? It mocks itself.

If conservatives keep this shit up—and of course they will, because always the same fucking story—I’ll soon enough be out of a blog. :|


Here is something cool:

New evidence suggests a ninth planet lurking at the edge of the solar system

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto. They are calling it “Planet Nine.”

Their paper, published in the Astronomical Journal, describes the planet as about five to 10 times as massive as the Earth.

Naturally, the question that immediately arises is: when can we launch the conservatives there? Now, I’m no astrophysicist, but I’m pretty sure the spacecraft can easily be powered by thoughts-‘n-prayers.





Via Glenn Greenwald on Twitter comes this link:

Diplomats, national security officials blast Sanders on Iran normalization, ISIL*

“Senator Sanders’ call to ‘move aggressively’ to normalize relations with Iran — to develop a ‘warm’ relationship — breaks with President Obama, is out of step with the sober and responsible diplomatic approach that has been working for the United States, and if pursued would fail while causing consternation among our allies and partners.”

OH NO NOT CONSTERNATION! From Saudi Arabia? Israel? My god. The horror.

The bloc of former diplomats called on Sanders to address issues with Russia, China, U.S. allies and nuclear proliferation, before concluding, “We need a Commander in Chief who sees how all of these dynamics fit together — someone who sees the whole chessboard, as Hillary Clinton does.”

The signatories include Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former under secretary of state for political affairs; Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff to the CIA director and defense secretary; Rand Beers, former deputy homeland security adviser to the president; Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, former U.S. ambassador-at-large; Ambassador Nicholas Burns, former under secretary of state for political affairs; Derek Chollet, former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs; Kathleen Hicks, former principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy; retired Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick, former deputy national security adviser to the president; James Miller, former under secretary of defense for policy; and Julianne Smith, former deputy national security adviser to the vice president.

Yes indeed: these are exactly the “sober and responsible” people we should all be listening to about our foreign policy that has been working so well.

*This news story political advertisement was brought to you by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman 4 Hillary PAC. HAHAHA I’m kidding! They don’t need a fucking PAC!



Ever? How about every day?


Well, that’s all I got. We now return to our regularly scheduled malaise.

Have a nice day.


BREAKING: Palace Wins Major Award!

Blogger STH (“struggling toward hope”) at Living in Color has graciously bestowed upon Your Humble Monarch™ the highly coveted Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

veryinspiringbloggerawardSTH writeth about us thusly:

Perry Street Palace — Iris Vander Pluym’s palace of social justice, righteous outrage, and snark.  This post on abortion–well, just read it.

I sincerely thank STH for the recognition! That post she links was difficult to write, but it got loads of traffic, great comments and some nice signal boosts, so I guess it’s…good? (I’m partial to The Abattoir myself, but seriously wtf do I know? I’m a blogger. Albeit a VERY INSPIRING one.)

So here is how this is all supposed to go down: I am to inform you about the whys and wherefores of this prestigious award, and then present it to bloggers that have inspired me in turn. I clicked through to the blogger who nominated STH, and then followed a few more links back from there, and noticed that the award guidelines had been tweaked with almost every iteration. I have therefore taken the liberty to pick and choose between the versions among them, because (a) there is no rule that says I can’t, and even if there were, (b) rules are not the boss of me. One example: STH’s post says I need to nominate ten bloggers, while an earlier rule just said “other bloggers.” Well what if I can’t think of ten very inspiring bloggers right now, and someone worthy ends up getting left out and feeling dissed? Or what if I think of more than ten? Then I would have to weigh them all against each other to cull the list? No. This “ten” rule is obviously going to create WAY too much pressure, and since I fully intend to enjoy this exercise I will be awarding the award to “other bloggers,” and leaving it at that.

Now all of this may sound like nothing more than a silly and pointless chain letter to you, but I assure you it is not: it is a VERY IMPORTANT Very Inspiring Blogger Award—and I have won it fair and square.

Wait, are blogs even A Thing anymore? Well, whatever.


So, what is the Very Inspiring Blogger Award?

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award is an award given to bloggers from fellow bloggers. It recognizes bloggers who work hard to keep the blogosphere a beautiful place.

Award Guidelines:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog. [Done and done.]
  2. Display the award logo in a blog entry. [Done.]
  3. List the award guidelines so your nominees will know what to do. [Aaaaand here they are. You are actually reading them right now!]
  4. State 7 hidden facts about yourself OR 3 things that inspire you. [See below.]
  5. Nominate other blogger friends for the award. [As many or as few bloggers as you feel like, or, you know, none. You’re welcome!]


“7 hidden facts about myself OR 3 things that inspire me?” Listen, it’s a pretty good bet that if there are indeed any hidden facts about myself—and for the record, I am neither confirming nor denying that there are—they would be hidden for very good reasons, and it would not serve me well to reveal them here.

But okay, I’ll give up one. As much as I looooove these shoes, I really have no need for them because my feet already look exactly like this:

tentacleshoesRather than continue to annoy you with nine more similarly “revealing” “facts,” I’ll take door number two: 3 things that inspire me.

Art. Construed broadly, so as to include everything you’re probably thinking of like music, movies and writing, but also innovative cuisine. And architecture. And cocktails. And Banksy.

Science. I.e., the natural world, and what we can know about it.

New York City. The only place that has ever felt like home.

Finally, in no particular order, here are some bloggers I find very inspiring—and to the extent I can parse it, why. (My usual disclaimer applies: inclusion here does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with any particular individual and their every post. That list would contain approximately zero entries.)

rancidhoneytrapheaderThe Rancid Honeytrap. Tarzie is a brilliant and scathing critic of professional liberals. He notes that “what most people regard as the American left is largely a status-quo fortifying fraud, regardless of how its individual members see themselves, and that exposing and ridiculing this fraud is a good thing.” I could not agree more. Mocking the Christian right and Republicans is as easy as shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel: hell, I have pointed out here on many occasions that it’s even easier than that, because conservatives helpfully mock themselves on a regular basis. All I have to do is point you to them and my work is done (which obviously suits my Lazy Royal Arse™ just fine). It is much more challenging and, I would argue much more necessary, to directly critique what passes for “the left,” which has drifted ever further rightward for at least my lifetime. Our public and media discourse is so stultifyingly restricted and narrow that people actually believe Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and their compatriot Democrats are actually bona fide lefties. Except for mocking them, I want absolutely nothing to do with either of them, their shitty political party, or their media supporters and enablers, all of whom entrench and reinforce an unsustainable, imperialist, sexist, white supremacist, Christianist, planet-destroying, brutally violent, corrupt, oligarchical, hierarchical, ubercapitalist status quo. That is the very definition of conservatism, people. Regardless of whether or not I ultimately agree with his analysis or conclusions, Tarzie never fails to remind me to view with a critical eye those narratives I may find intuitively appealing and…convenient.

Tl;dr: I wanna have Tarzie’s rancid baybeez.

gradientlairheaderGradient Lair. Trudy’s is the quintessential “womanist blog about Black women and art, media, social media, socio-politics and culture.” It will not be lost on Loyal Readers™ that our White Supremacist culture—and this includes White feminism—fails Black women in uniquely terrible ways. As a card-carrying member of the STFU and Listen School of Allyship™, I have benefited tremendously from Trudy’s perspective. I ain’t gonna lie: sometimes her trenchant observations really, really sting. And that of course is a gift, not just because it inspires self-reflection and personal growth, but because it broadens my understanding of the world in which all of us find ourselves. Her prolific output, large following on multiple social media platforms, and honesty about her vulnerabilities unfortunately attracts an endless torrent of abuse from Capital A Assholes of all races and genders. It’s like sharks to blood in the water. (Okay, that was an entirely unwarranted insult to sharks, which are ridiculously cool animals. I’M SORRY SHARKS!) I am also wowed and inspired by the gorgeous images Trudy frequently posts that celebrate vibrant and diverse Black womanhood and Black art: frankly we could all use more exposure to non-Eurocentric standards of female beauty, and that certainly goes for Whitney McWhitepersons like yours truly.

pharyngulaheaderPharyngula. There’s a reason PZ Myers is the Palace’s Patron Saint. Many reasons, actually, including taking strong stands for liberalism, feminism, racial inequality, science- and evidence-based reasoning, and the moral and political implications of atheism. He takes a ton of shit for it, too, mainly from the White Douchebro Atheist Brigades and their poo-flinging flying monkeys, but also from creationists and the incorrigibly religious. Fortunately for us, though, these clashes often result in biting comedy gold. YMMV of course, but for me PZ hits the infotainment sweet spot, and his commentariat is eagle-eyed and notoriously ferocious with bullshitters of every stripe. Years ago as an Internet fledgeling I cut my teeth at Pharyngula, and I have met some amazing people via that site. Also: cephalopods. So, you know, WIN.

seriouslyheaderSeriously?!? Feminace describes herself as “low-income, disabled, and snarky.” And oh, her snark is sublime. Consider this gem from her recent piece A Prescription from Dr. Feminace, PH.D of Done With This Shit:

You’re missing the point so hard that you can’t catch a fucking clue with clue bait, a clue hunting rifle and covered in clue pee in the middle of clue hunting season.

She is a reproductive justice activist and clinic escort, a gamer and a geek—and in her spare time she writes dirty novels. I FUCKING LOVE THIS WOMAN.

shoopsroostheaderThe Shoops Roost. My friend Tony is a fellow Pharyngulite, a hawt d00d, and a fierce Social Justice Warrior who writes about LGBT issues (he lives them!), feminism (he’s for it!), and racial inequality (he lives that too—and he’s against it!). Tony is also a professional bartender by trade, ahem. All of this is why, were it not for my undying devotion to My Amazing Lover™ AND OH YEAH THE FACT THAT TONY IS GAY, I would be writing this post from Florida where he lives and relentlessly cajoling him into marrying me. OBVIOUSLY. Tony is also a Loyal Reader™, commenter and supportive fan of the Palace’s trademark snarkittude. The other day he had either a massive brain fart or a flash of brilliance when he proposed that we join forces for a podcast, “Tea Time With Iris and Tony,” wherein we (a) discuss, you know, stuff, and (b) presumably reclaim tea for the left. (Mar-Tea-ni, anyone?) If that isn’t inspiring some serious Next Level shit, well, I don’t know what is.

shakesvilleheaderShakesville. Melissa McEwan is a relentless advocate for intersectional feminism, which is inspiring enough, but the sheer amount of thoughtful and eloquent content she generates on a regular basis is nothing short of astonishing. She has more than once opened my mind up to seeing social justice issues in new ways, and her blog roundups have turned me on to many other amazing writers (e.g. Trudy at Gradient Lair). Perhaps most inspiring, Liss and her mods maintain a truly safe space on the Internet, like a cool oasis in a scorching desert—no small feat, to put it mildly, particularly when she has been the target of relentless threats and abuse, online and in meatspace, for years. And yet she soldiers on. FUCK YEAH.

mofonationheaderMofoNation. Elyse is one of the most gifted writers I know—and one of the bravest. If you want to understand what feminists deal with on the Internet, just read the comments on virtually any of her recent posts. In response, she has decided that rather than taking the “safe space” approach à la Shakesville, i.e. blocking and deleting the comments of shitweasels who viciously berate and threaten her, she plans to leave every shitty comment on the record:

I was told to be quieter and ask my fellow feminists to be quieter, too. But also, that hides the abuse. It doesn’t take it off me. It doesn’t make it so I do not endure it. It moves it to a place where others do not have to see what is being done and said. And I won’t do that.

I want it on full display. I want for people to be able to see what uttering feminist words does. I want people to see.

So I am doing none of those things. I turned off comment moderation. I turned off comment flagging. I brought on one person to help me manage comments for threats against me and my family, but informed that person to never delete a single comment.

Just…wow. To be clear, I am not saying that I admire this approach over Shakesville’s; people can and should curate their blog comment sections however they see fit. I’m for “all hands on deck” approaches to most problems, and this one is no exception.

bitchesgottaeatheaderBitches Gotta Eat. Samantha Irby is a Chicago-based comedian and author who never, ever fails to elicit howling gales of laughter from the core of my very being. She suffers from Crohn’s disease, which is not fucking funny in the least, but the way she writes about it sure is (see: “i wore a diaper to speed dating.” OMFG). She somehow manages to be simultaneously crude and classy, disgusting and dignified, misanthropic and humanistic. I love the way she plays with language and storytelling: it’s unorthodox and can sometimes be jarring, but for that very reason she pushes me out of my comfort zone as a writer, and thereby sparks new possibilities. Her blog has no comment section; in light of the above, this policy should be perfectly understandable.

pervocracyheaderThe Pervocracy. Cliff’s palace of kink is a treasure trove of BDSM advice and uproarious critiques of sexism from a sex-positive feminist perspective. His series on the incomprehensibly terrible of Fifty Shades of Grey is a goddamn masterwork. I find Cliff’s writing inspiring not just for his wicked wit, but for his nuanced thinking and honesty about deeply personal experiences with sexuality, gender and intimate relationships.

wehuntedthemammothheaderWe Hunted the Mammoth. David Futrelle expertly, hilariously and mercilessly mocks the manosphere, but believe it or not that isn’t why I find him inspiring. It’s because he deploys his (male) privilege to take a principled stand against oppression that doesn’t directly target him: misogyny. That is the kind of writer and ally I aspire to be: one who infotains, yes, but also one who signal boosts the voices and perspectives of those whose lived experience does not comport with the false and harmful narratives that dominate our culture—be they racial, sexual, nativist, class- or ability-based, or otherwise.


That was ten? Well crap: |

When I started this little blog venture, I really didn’t know whether I would (or should) persist with it. I had no idea whether I would find my own voice as a writer, and I definitely did not know whether anyone, anywhere, would find my rantings worth their time to read. But to my great surprise, my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ answered those questions in the affirmative, for which I am so very grateful. Thank you, all of you, for your encouragement. And an extra special shout-out goes to my co-bloggers SJ and Don Ardell, for making the Palace a much better place than I could possibly make it alone.

Please join us in the Palace Bar today to celebrate our very important Very Inspiring Blogger Award. We will be serving champagne, and cookies from Sweet Corner Bakeshop. Breakfast of champions.

Fiscal conservative/social liberals can f*ck right off.

I haven’t done a link roundup in a while, due in part to a near-lethal combination of busyness and laziness. While I do not deny that laziness has always been one of my many, many charming personal qualities (and seriously people, I highly recommend it), a good deal of my most recent malaise is directly attributable to Thea, Goddess of Pain. Thea, you see, pretends to be something called a “personal trainer.” But I am on to her. She is actually a professional assassin, hired by some right-wing political operative no doubt, threatened by my magnanimous free assistance to Governor Martin O’Malley’s pre-presidential pre-campaign. Thea’s mission is to brutally torture me (no, not the fun kind) at regularly scheduled intervals until she finally sucks the last drop of life out of me. Oh, and it gets weirder: Thea is a dead ringer for Jennifer fucking Lawrence:

jlawtheaLEFT: J-Law. RIGHT: Thea.

So for several hours every week, my life is quite literally The Hunger Games: David Barton Gym. I tell you, it’s fucking exhausting. I look at a dozen open tabs in my browser that I would very much like to compile here for your infotainment, and I just think ahhhh gaaaaawd itttt’s tooooo muuuuuch as my cursor drifts listlessly around my screen. Eventually I say fuck it, and just close the goddamn window. ACHIEVEMENT: UNLOCKED.

But I came across an important piece that I really want to signal boost, so I’ve had an extra cup of coffee and am getting down to business. Greta Christina, atheist author and Godless Pervert after my own heart, has a piece up at AlterNet titled 7 Things People Who Say They’re ‘Fiscally Conservative But Socially Liberal’ Don’t Understand. As my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ well know, the Palace is home to the world’s preeminent research institution dedicated to the study of All Things Conservative®, in the hope of someday finding a cure. The fabulous Ms. Christina’s article is a handy resource, chock full of salient facts and sound reasoning, that perfectly captures the inconsistencies inherent in the supremely annoying fiscal conservative/social liberal position (“FC/SL”). It will make an excellent addition to our library.

Because Greta is a much nicer person than I am (well isn’t everyone? EXCEPT THEA) she gives FC/SLs the benefit of the doubt: her essay is addressed to well-meaning, bona fide social liberals who for whatever reason have just not thought any of this through. And for those who genuinely care about injustice and oppression—and are open to persuasion by evidence and reason—Greta’s piece will be powerfully compelling. As in: case fucking closed, compelling. But in my experience, such citizens are vanishingly rare (although certainly worth reaching with posts like Greta’s).

As she points out, self-professed FC/SLs are depressingly common. And she notes right up front:

You can’t separate fiscal issues from social issues. They’re deeply intertwined. They affect each other. Economic issues often are social issues.

This is true as far as it goes, but I think these things are connected in another sense that warrants mentioning. Unlike Greta, you see, I operate under the assumption that the vast majority of those who claim to be FC/SL are not actually socially liberal, except on issues that either happen to suit them personally (e.g. legal weed) or don’t affect them at all (e.g. gay marriage). Instead, they are actually straight-up conservatives, with all of the reality-averse, empathy-deficient privilege denial and sense of entitlement this typically entails. Unsurprisingly, this view results in my taking a rather different approach to dealing with them than Greta does. Why, just the other night I could have really used a link to her piece, and thus spared myself the tedium of making the case, again, for why FC/SL is not fucking legit, to someone who will never, ever get it.

Allow me to set the scene:* My Amazing Lover™ and I were enjoying half-priced Martinis and dinner at a bar, and chatting it up with the bartender, a regular patron we know, and a semi-regular patron we did not. Semi-regular patron turned out to be the fiercely badass Karen Greenberg; it turns out I had met her at a 2010 conference I attended, The Constitution and National Security: The First Amendment Under Attack, at NYU’s Center on Law and Security—which center she founded and served as executive director until 2011. I had also come across her writing before, at Mother Jones and elsewhere. She is an exceptionally brilliant author (here, go read this, you’re welcome) and an accomplished legal expert on terrorism, national security and the rule of law. Karen had attended Chelsea Manning’s trial (!!!), so of course she was super impressed upon hearing about my national write-in campaign for Snowden/Manning 2016 on the FUCK YOU party ticket. To call our conversation interesting would be like calling Dick Cheney a little bit naughty. As great bar conversations invariably go, ours evolved and drifted through many topics on which we were all pretty much in agreement, including our terminally diseased media, racist police murders, poverty, disastrous US foreign policy, and—my personal area of expertise—the plague of conservatism.

At some point two young women sat down directly to my left and ordered drinks. When one of them went to the ladies room, the other (lets call her Roberta) took this opportunity to interject herself into our conversation with the breathtaking insight that “you know, there is another point of view.”

Not at this bar, there isn’t.

Roberta proceeded to ‘splain to me—while the amazing conversation to my right carried on without me!—that her generation felt strongly about the truly grave injustice of having to pay so much in taxes. Yep: here we were talking about the travesty of food insecurity among impoverished children in the United States and civilian casualties of drone bombings in the Middle East, when thankfully Roberta piped up to set us all straight about the truly important problem facing our world: her tax bill.

I took a big slurp of my drink while I sized her up. She was tall, conventionally attractive, apparently able-bodied, well-dressed, with perfectly coiffed hair, tasteful jewelry, makeup and manicure. I can generally spot a conservative in the wild from five blocks away, and lets just say that this one definitely pegged the meter. Now, I don’t normally argue with conservatives without an audience (except when I do); it is, as Loyal Readers™ are well aware, the ultimate exercise in futility. As I have repeatedly, thoroughly and conclusively documented, conservatives are constitutionally incapable of recognizing when they are flat-out wrong and changing their minds accordingly. Perhaps it was the scintillating discourse that evening that had me firing on all cylinders (Karen Greenberg!), although probably it was the second Martini kicking in, but I let out an exasperated sigh and rattled off a couple quips in rapid succession:

-You know, if you’re fortunate enough that you actually see fit to sit here and complain about paying too much in taxes, you’re doing way better than the vast majority of your fellow citizens.

-I happen to agree with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said, “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”

-Unfortunately for the lower-my-taxes brigades AND for everyone else, there are certain functions a government can perform way more cost-efficiently and at a superior level than private industry can—like health care, for instance. But because of people like you, we all end up paying more and getting less rather than pay for things with taxes.” She started to say something about Obamacare (which I am sure I never ever would have heard before and which would have no doubt been stunningly insightful) but I cut her off. “Okay here’s another example: New Jersey’s roads are in such terrible disrepair that it actually costs drivers more in vehicles damage than it would to fix and maintain the roads by raising the gas tax. But nooooooooo, raising taxes is a political nonstarter, because waaaahhhh taaaaaxes. That sound you heard? That was your drive train being ripped off your car by a foot-deep pothole. But you saved fifty cents at your last fill-up! So, congratulations?”


“Well I’m just trying to inform you about my generation’s different point of view, which you may not be aware of, and it’s about paying high taxes,” she replied. “From, you know, the corporate side, people who work. I mean I’m pretty liberal on most things, but…”

Oh, no. Now she’d done it: FC/SL.

“Okay, first of all, you don’t speak for your generation. Any more than I speak for mine,” I said—and yeah, with a derisive snort. Because holy arrogant shitweaselry, are you fucking kidding me? “And as for your truly unique and super-special perspective that I might be unfamiliar with—lower taxes, smaller government?—it is the exact same point of view relentlessly broadcast via every major media outlet in this country since at least the 1980s. In fact I don’t see how it’s even possible for anyone to escape it, try as we might. I mean, you are just so, so, flat-out wrong.”


I started to turn away from her in the hope of rejoining the grown-up’s conversation (with My Amazing Lover™ and Karen Greenberg! Did I mention Karen Greenberg? KAREN. GREENBERG.). Alas, it was not to be: right at that moment Roberta’s friend (lets call her Kathy) returned and became instantly incensed with my irritated, weary tone and unvarnished disagreement with Roberta’s comically uninformed opinions.

“Wow, where do you get off talking to my friend like that?” Kathy practically spat at me. “You need to learn to tolerate other people who just happen to disagree with you!”

“No, I don’t have to do any such thing,” I said flatly. “See, people with opinions like your friend here are not just wrong about reality, they are destroying my country and making the world a lot worse. So no, I do not have to tolerate that.” Now I was actually becoming amused at all this ‘splainin, directed at me by two people I had never met and who don’t know the first fucking thing about me.

Kathy got even more torqued up, and said something about isn’t that what makes this country great, tho? that we can all sit right here and have a civil discussion even though we disagree, and how we can still all get along if we show each other respect and blah blah blah…NOPE.

“No, that is not what makes this country great—to the extent it even is great, which by the way I categorically dispute. And no, I do not have to or even want to get along with everybody. There is a lot of evil and suffering in the world, including on this very city block, so no, I do not have to respect people whose views and votes make things worse.”

“Are you calling my friend EVIL?! Wow! That’s just…so rude!”

All right, all right. I admit I was trolling them. A little bit. BUT I ONLY EVER USE MY ASSHOLE SUPERPOWERS FOR GOOD, PEOPLE.

“Well what I’m saying is,” Roberta chimed in again, apparently unfazed, “Is I just think when it comes to helping poor people for instance, that I should be the one to decide who gets my two dollars, not the government.” (Yes, she actually said two dollars. Jeezus.)

“Well, then your opinion is not reality-based.”

That really set Kathy off. “See? That right there? ‘Reality-based?’ That’s just rude and completely unnecessary!”

“Oh, is it? Well hear me out,” I said. “See, people have actually studied this method of individual charity and compared the results with centralized government programs that do the same thing, in the real world.” Kathy crossed her arms tightly and rolled her eyes. “And it turns out that, just like health care, it’s more efficient and effective for the government to do these things. By far. So when I say reality-based, that’s not rude, it’s data. This is information anyone can look up, if they cared to.”

“Listen,” I continued, “Your friend interjected herself into our conversation, with complaints about high taxes and other bullshit, so yeah, if I want to, I get to tell her why and how she is wrong. Disastrously, horrifically wrong, morally and factually. And you know what? If that’s rude, I really don’t give a shit.”

That shut Kathy up for a minute. “Oh. Well I didn’t realize that. I just came back in the middle of what seemed really rude…but okay, if she barged in and just started disagreeing with you, that’s different.” Why, I might even call it rude. You know, if I gave a shit.

And then the worst possible thing happened: Karen Greenberg came over to say goodnight. She was leaving! We hugged, thanked each other for a great night and said we hoped we’d soon cross paths again.

We got in touch the very next day, so all was not lost. Now we can plan to meet, or just see if one of us might be around when the other happens to be headed in the direction of those Martinis. Perhaps next time I will be free from the pestilence of ignorant conservatives who think they’re liberals setting me straight about what’s what.

As for Roberta and Kathy, things turned out all right there, too. After Karen Greenberg left, Roberta looked forlorn and stared morosely up at the muted TV. My Amazing Lover™, having lost his extraordinary conversation partner, saddled right up to her and they began chatting. I have no idea about what—I haven’t asked, he hasn’t volunteered, and you will not be at all surprised to learn that I don’t give a shit. There is nothing new about conservatives, or conservatism. Any of it. Ever.

Kathy, on the other hand, cheered right up immediately. As if a switch had been flipped, within no time she was acting as if I was her long-lost best friend, laughing up a storm and professing admiration for me?! Okay, player. Maybe there’s hope for you yet. I responded, “Pffffft. I’m nobody. You should have met Karen Greenberg.” We bought them a round of drinks, and they both hugged me on the way out, Kathy warmly and affectionately, then Roberta, stiff as a board.

I cannot always safely interact with conservatives as I did in this instance. Even when I can, I don’t always want to or have the spoons to do it. I am perfectly capable of diffusing, deescalating, or disengaging from such conversations at any time. But whether I engage because I am justifiably angered by a fellow citizen for holding forth as an unrepentant, inexcusably ignorant asshole and cannot in good conscience let it stand, or because I’m thoroughly enjoying myself—or both—it’s ultimately because I believe there must be a social cost for spewing this crap. As any social justice warrior will tell you, silence in the face of harmful speech, from rape jokes to racist slurs, is interpreted by both the speaker and bystanders as agreement and solidarity. While I do not think it is realistic to envision a future United States wherein conservatives have become enlightened, i.e. reality-based, in numbers significant enough to bring about anything remotely resembling an egalitarian social democracy, I do think it’s a reasonable (if daunting) goal to marginalize conservative views. To do that, we need to make social spaces conservatives have heretofore inhabited with impunity uncomfortable for them (for a change). If conservatism is as intractable at an individual level as racism and misogyny are—and there is every reason to believe that it is—then the best we can hope to achieve is a culture in which conservatives realize it is in their own best interests to shut the fuck up. After all, their own interests are pretty much the only thing that has ever motivated them.

But lefties will rarely confront conservatives on their bullshit directly, while the reverse is manifestly not the case. Liberals are more likely to take a live-and-let-live-go-along-to-get-along approach, to patiently explain reality when conservatives spout irrational nonsense, to cling to the barest thread of common ground when the whole fabric of society is burning, to be nice. And for better or for worse, this tendency is even more true of women and girls because of the way we are socialized.

Well I’ve come to the conclusion that nice is overrated. Good is where it’s at. Maybe, just maybe, Roberta will think twice before she pukes that tripe up the next time.




*Although I have reconstructed it to the best of my recollection and without much embellishment, the conversation reported herein is not a verbatim transcript, given the time passed and the fog of Martinis. I will note that I almost certainly write more coherently than I speak in casual conversation, but this is the essential gist of the evening as well as I can communicate it.

Happy Birthday PZ Myers!

pzbdayshrine As we do every year on this occasion, we have duly decorated the Palace’s hallowed shrine to PZ Myers, Patron Saint of Perry Street Palace, to celebrate The Great Tentacled One’s successful completion of yet another orbit around our sun. Longtime Loyal Readers will recall that in February of 2011, PZ generously published our silly little screed In Defense of Mockery on his Pharyngula blog—an all-time favorite of ours. The Palace gained Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ that day, for which PZ will always have our undying appreciation and affection. Since then he has continued to be amazingly supportive: PZ cross-posted our Casualties of War; and just this past year he signal boosted Dear Friend: Words Have Meanings—and goaded those pestilent apes of the Forced Birth Brigades to dare come over to the Palace and read it. And Christ, did they ever. Fortunately PZ’s infamous Horde followed, and did what they always do: expertly deployed the heavy artillery in the battles that ensued.

This was also a year that saw PZ finally break ties with longtime BFF Richard Dawkins, though not before a lot of hand-holding, patient explanation and hopeful optimism that in the end proved to be utterly futile and entirely undeserved. It is an extraordinarily difficult thing to write off people you have long admired and with whom you have invested time in a shared purpose. Hell, The Dawk broke my heart; I can only imagine the sting for someone who also considered him a friend. But it mattered, to me at least, that PZ ultimately stood on principle, and did so in the face of an onslaught of petty and nasty attacks from the Great Horsedouche himself and his many misogynist minions.

This is what being an ally looks like.

It has also become our tradition to offer up a smattering of quotes from the Overlord, and here are a few we collected over the last twelve months. Please enjoy, and stick around for the traditional Red Velvet cake & beer celebration.


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

We try. We really try. But no matter how progressive the state might be, we’re still afflicted with horrible, demented people who run for office. Fortunately, there’s a tell: they always join the Republican party. –PZ Myers

I could do this all day, inventing pseudo-scientific evo-psych rationalizations for why particular stone age tasks shaped brains in a sex-specific manner, but at least I wouldn’t be doing it to somehow magically always fit 21st century Western cultural expectations. But I can’t, because it’s stupid. –PZ Myers

I won’t dignify religious rules with the word “morality”. A true human morality has to be founded on our obligations to one another, rather than to an imaginary figurehead. –PZ Myers

Values? It seems to me that the churches have always been far behind the enlightened members of society, changing only in response to fairly intense pressure to accommodate — see anything to do with race or sex for examples of religion failing and humanist ideals having to first flatten the religious bullshit to get through to people. –PZ Myers

If religion were really about human wellbeing, then the churches would be at the forefront of the struggle for LGBTQ rights, for instance; they’d all be citing the scriptures that say that all human beings are equally deserving of happiness, and that you shouldn’t oppress or harm people for not behaving in private the way you want them to. The problem is that there are no scriptures like that. –PZ Myers

We don’t need love for an invisible man to motivate us; how about instead being motivated by love for the very real human beings around us? How about redirecting that natural desire for service to helping people who need it, rather than trying to please an imaginary creature? Especially when that imaginary creature, by your own holy books, will not be satisfied with anything less than an eternity of servile worship. –PZ Myers

I’m going to have to write off Richard Dawkins now. He’s been eaten by the brain parasites. –PZ Myers

And for good measure:

Fuck you, Sam Harris, you incompetent amoral hack, smug apologist for monsters. –PZ Myers

Thank you, PZ. And happy, happy birthday. Long may you mock.