Rape and domestic violence for fun and profit.

[CONTENT NOTE: rape, domestic violence, inhumane treatment of vulnerable people.]

I AM SIDE-EYING THE FUCK OUT OF YOU AUSTRALIA. And yeah, I know that is reeeeeeeeally saying something coming from a citizen of the United States of Avarice, where we will happily privatize for profit everything that isn’t nailed down, and also everything that is nailed down too. Hell, I hesitated even posting about this story, lest I give Paul Ryan et al or conservative Democrats the Squirrel People any more exquisitely horrible ideas. So please, people: I implore you to keep this information to yourselves during your usual daily barrage of irate calls to your congresscritters.

Continue reading

Fucking hell, people.

[CONTENT NOTE: Orlando mass shooting and related issues; rape; mental health. No violent images or graphic descriptions.]

I was quite literally rendered speechless upon learning of the tragedy in Orlando Sunday morning. I cannot say I was surprised, though; mass public shootings in the US have been increasing, and it’s no secret that conservatives have been cranking up the hate against the LGBTQ community (just as they have against women, immigrants, religious minorities, the poor, the disabled, etc., and of course none of this is a coincidence). But I did (and do) feel traumatized—as in anxious, dissociating, difficulty concentrating, overwhelming sadness and anger, waking through the night with my heart pounding, super fun stuff like that. For an artist and writer who uses art and writing to process life and the world around her, such a state is nothing short of devastating. (<-See? Dissociating. I just referred to myself in the third person for no fucking reason FFS.)

I don’t write a lot about my personal life online, for many reasons I won’t go into here. But in this case some of that is relevant, and I think perhaps worth sharing.

Continue reading

URGENT: Signal boosting.

[CONTENT NOTE: descriptions of anti-gay violence and horrific injuries; no graphic images here, but there are at the Washington Post and Go Fund Me links.]

Via my brilliant, brave and amazing friend Niki (who has a fantastic new blog at The Orbit that you should definitely check out) comes a story so fucking sad and enraging I am having tremendous difficulty writing about it. I’m shaking while I type. Also, my screen looks very blurry—there must be a lot of dust up in here.

A month ago, [Marquez] Tolbert, 21, and his boyfriend Anthony Gooden Jr., 23, were jolted out of sleep by the feeling of boiling water splashing across their torsos, faces and limbs. Gooden’s mother’s boyfriend, Martin Blackwell, stood over them, pouring the water, they say.

For a moment, Tolbert had no idea what could have provoked the alleged attack. Then Blackwell allegedly yanked him off the mattress and yelled, “Get out of my house with all that gay,” Tolbert recalled to WSBTV.

It was not Blackwell’s apartment. He didn’t even live there.

According to an incident report from the College Park Police Department, Blackwell told police that he was angry at the sight of the two men together.

“They were stuck together like two hot dogs … so I poured a little hot water on them and help them out,” he said to police, according to the incident report. “… They’ll be alright. It was just a little hot water.”

No, you monstrous fucking asshole, this was not “a little hot water” and no, these men will never be all right.

Now, Tolbert and Gooden are in the agonizing process of recovering from their second and third degree burns. Tolbert spent 10 days in the hospital undergoing surgery to repair the skin on his back. Gooden was hospitalized for five weeks, according to Project Q Atlanta.

[Tolbert] must now wear compression garments 23 hours a day for the next two years…and is attending weekly counseling and physical therapy sessions to deal with his emotional and physical scars. It’s difficult for him to go outside, because sunlight exacerbates the pain of his burns.

He told WSBTV “The pain doesn’t let you sleep. It’s excruciating, 24 hours a day. It doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t dial down. It’s just there.”

Gooden, who was burned even more severely, was in a medically-induced coma for several weeks…more than 60 percent of his body was burned, and he had to undergo skin graft surgery to repair damage to his face, neck, back, arms, chest and head.

Does that sound “all right” to you?

Recovery from second and third degree burns is a very long, difficult, painful (both physically and emotionally), expensive journey. There are Go Fund Me accounts set up for both of these men (REMINDER: graphic images of the men’s injuries at these links). Please, please donate whatever you can afford to give, and/or share this story far and wide.

I can only formulate two observations at the moment.

First, just yesterday, before I heard this story, I was commiserating with PZ over at Pharyngula that yes indeed, people really suck.

PZ nails exactly why I cannot identify as a humanist. Humans as a species are fucking terrible. Call it misanthropy, call it whatever you want, but I see it as an observable, evidence-based fact. And I don’t assume intentional malice to conclude this.

That said, I love and care deeply about many, many actual humans. And this may sound…odd? But giving up hope for us as a species has actually been liberating for me in a positive way. It helped me prioritize finding and spreading joy in the here-and-now, and doing what I can to ease the suffering of sentient beings while I’m alive. (Ironically, such efforts can have the side effect of giving other people hope.)

IOW, Martin Blackwell is Exhibit No. 7,409,586,791 in support of the motion that humans are truly fucking terrible.

The second thing is that Anthony Gooden Jr. and Marquez Tolbert are Exhibit Nos. 9,147,452,372,921 and 9,147,452,372,922, respectively, in support of the motion that the United States needs single payer healthcare RIGHT FUCKING NOW GODDAMMIT THE END. (Yes I’m glaring at you, Hillary Clinton.)

medicare4all

The banishment of John, Part 3.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia, eliminationism, misogyny and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

This is the last installment.

Part 2 left off in the middle of my meticulous dismemberment of John Miller’s final, terrible comment, at which point he had finished addressing commenter khms (who responded to him beautifully here, as did Rotary Wing here). John now turns to address Your Humble Monarch™ directly. But before I finishing dissecting this specimen, please allow me to reiterate some important points to bear in mind.

NOTE 1: There is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither reason nor facts are likely to penetrate their reality distortion fields enough to sway them in the direction of understanding or accepting reality—and in fact, a backfire effect may occur. There are, however, at least two reasons to make an exception to this rule. The first is for the infotainment of others, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, Loyal Readers™, young and impressionable children, etc. The second exception is for the pleasure to be found in the sharpening of one’s (rhetorical) fangs, whether in preparation for the aforementioned audiences or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to discern under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment in addition to material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking here I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.

Shall we?

__________

Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers …

It is absolutely adorable that John thinks the US is a democracy, or that the permanent power factions in DC  (i.e. the deep state) value the concept of democracy for anything other than the ease with which they can exploit it.

It is super sweet that John thinks the rule of law operates here.

It is positively precious that John thinks “freedom of speech” is a cherished principle in these United States.

It is particularly priceless that John thinks equality for women and girls is now,
or has ever been, a defining feature of Western society.

It is deliciously delightful that John sees Western civilization as a beacon of freedom from institutionalized paedophilia, rather than practically being defined by it.

It is seriously stunning that John believes routine genital mutilation is somehow unique to Muslim cultures.

And it is really remarkable that John views the separation of powers as A Thing That Exists—except, of course, in the sense of powers being separated from We, the People.

__________

These values need to be cherished and protected.

I seem to recall “freedom of religion” being a cherished and protected value of this much-touted Western culture. I guess I must have made that up, because it’s missing from John’s list of “core values of Western culture.”

__________

I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’.

Really? Aww, come on! That’s an easy one! TO MAKE IT BETTER. Funny thing about that, though: the biggest obstacle to making progress on any of these fronts is people like John, whose willful ignorance magically allows them to see themselves, their uninformed and toxic views and the evil that results as somehow benevolent, despite all evidence to the contrary.

A real conundrum.

__________

Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one! See, e.g., the entire fucking history of Australia. [h/t Rotary Wing.]

On a related note, I now wish to demonstrate for Loyal Readers™ my astonishing psychic abilities: without having ever met John, interviewed him (or others about him), researched into his background, seen a picture of him, or indeed learned anything at all about him except through his comments here, I am willing to bet the entire Palace Treasury that in addition to being a (cisgender) male, John is also white, straight and Australian-born.

TA-DA!  My mad clairvoyant skillz simply cannot be explained away by guessing that:

  • John doesn’t see racism in Australia, because he has never been, and likely will never be, oppressed in any way because of his race.

I AM FUCKING AMAZING AMIRITE.

__________

We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis.

How nice for John and his friends. Some people would loooooove to be interested in those things, but they’re kinda busy with other things. Things like fleeing violent conflicts and keeping themselves and their children alive.

By the way, it turns out that the Aussies are interested in a few other things, too.

__________

If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around.

I appreciate the offer, but…

You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

I have no idea what any of that means. But if it means “people who are like John,” I (dis)respectfully decline.

__________

When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies.

Wow, it sure is a mystery why Muslims immigrants to Australia might wish to live in enclaves.

SPOILER ALERT! It’s… people like John.

__________

It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

It’s a real shame the Australian government is so cash-strapped and has nothing better to spend money on. Besides directly creating the conditions that lead to Islamic terrorism and mass migrations of Muslims in the first place, OBVIOUSLY.

__________

I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules.

Gosh, I wonder what exactly these “cultural rules” might be, how they might be enforced in a diverse society, and who will enforce them. Are they anything like, you know, “laws”?

If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else.

For example, to prison? I must be off my game, because I sort of agree with John here.*

*Except we all know that by “cultural rules” John doesn’t mean laws. He means something else entirely, more along the lines of an Official Real Australian™ Dress Code For Women, as we shall see.

__________

People then have a choice, fit in or ship out. Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women.

That John thinks he can simultaneously write comments like the one we’re addressing here, and also claim to be part of a society that welcomes Muslims, is…um, interesting. And by now it will surprise no one that John is just as WRONG about Atatürk getting rid of “the head gear” as he is about everything else:

Even though he personally promoted modern dress for women, Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] never made specific reference to women’s clothing in the law, as he believed that women would adapt to the new clothing styles of their own free will. He was frequently photographed on public business with his wife Lâtife Uşaklıgil, who covered her head in accordance with Islamic tradition. He was also frequently photographed on public business with women wearing modern Western clothes. But it was Atatürk’s adopted daughters, Sabiha Gökçen and Afet İnan, who provided the real role model for the Turkish women of the future. He wrote: “The religious covering of women will not cause difficultyThis simple style [of headcovering] is not in conflict with the morals and manners of our society.

[emphasis mine.]

Yes, John is oddly obsessed with superficial conformity to (arbitrary) local dress codes, especially for women. I was momentarily curious as to whether John would have similar objections to Orthodox Jewish men in black hats and curls. Or to nuns wearing habits. Or to Sikhs wearing turbans. Or to Hindus wearing bindis on their foreheads and other traditional garb. Or ooh! OOH! To priests wearing collars! Now I personally think priest collars should not just be permitted but actively encouraged, because (a) it makes them stand out such that I can easily avoid or engage with priests as I see fit, and (b) I’ve always had a serious fetish for hawt priests. WIN-WIN.

australianorthodoxjews

Australian Orthodox Jewish men with the head gear.”
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, JEWS!

carmelitenunsaustralia

Australian Carmelite nuns with “the head gear,”
plus some d00ds.
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, NUNS!

australiansikhsprayervigil

Australian Sikhs, some with “the head gear,”at a prayer vigil for a mass murder at a Sikh temple by a white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wisconsin (USA).
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, SIKHS!

australianhindus

Australian Hindus.
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, HINDUS!

robgaleaaustralianpriest

Fr. Rob Galea, Catholic priest in Australia.
OMFG *swoon*
Don’t worry, sweetheart! If mean old John tells you to “FIT IN OR SHIP OUT!” you just come right over here and sit by me. :D

But then suddenly I remembered that I don’t give a fuck what John thinks, as long as he thinks it somewhere else.

However for the record: the people pictured here are just as “Australian” as John is. Whatever that even means.

__________

These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

Okay, I’ve been around the Interwebz a time or two, so please allow me to translate John’s drivel for you. By “the sisterhood,” John means his warped caricature of feminists, i.e., a group of humans which (a) includes no men and no Muslims, (b) has no understanding of misogyny, especially Islamic-flavored misogyny, and (c) lacks John’s in-depth and comprehensive understanding of culture and symbolism.

… as opposed to, say, John having no fucking clue what women in virtually every culture in the world including his own must navigate just to survive.

Interestingly, actual feminists want a world where everyone—and yes, “everyone” even includes Muslim women!— is free and encouraged to wear whatever the fuck they want.

And, until it is safe for everyone to choose to wear whatever the fuck they want without oppression resulting, everyone needs to STFU about whether, when and where it is appropriate for Muslim women to wear “the head gearbecause we do not live in that fucking world goddammit.

Seriously, do people even think for one second about the choice they want some of the most oppressed people in the world—immigrant Muslim women of color—to make here? Be shunned by your family and everyone you know in the religious community to which you belong, or, apparently, be judged and demonized by the Johns of the (supposedly “free”…) wider society?

palacefuckyou

Please accept this hearty Palace FUCK YOU.

__________

When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

OMG YOU GUYS! John has figured out the solution to misogyny! And it’s so simple, I cannot believe we didn’t think of it before! It’s… people like John policing what women wear! Fit in or ship out, bitchez! And for good measure, blaming the women of a persecuted religious minority—many of whom are also women of color in predominately white (and white supremacist) societies—for perpetrating their own oppression, if for whatever reason they do not conform strictly to local, provincial standards of dress. (Hey, I wonder if the dress standards John espouses are gender neutral. I’m just kidding! LOL! I crack myself up.)

____________

Incidentally, this is how I picture John dressing:

johnswear

Note in particular the lack of “the head gear,” such lack being customary and characteristic of Real Australians™.

All of this^ he is (and damn well ought to be) 100% free to wear, no matter how repulsive I or anyone else may find his personal style or reasons for presenting himself the way he does.

Everyone should have that freedom.

THE END.

__________

Wherefore, and in Due Consideration of All of the Foregoing Acts of Unrepentant Conservatism, Which Having Been Finally Exhausted of All Explanatory and/or Entertainment Value, Let It Be Known Throughout the Land That

John Miller

is Hereby Forever Banished to

All of the Other Places on the Internet
(Most of Which By the Way are Generally Not as Reality-Based and Fun as This One.)

__________

banishmentjohnmiller

__________

Let us rejoice, for John Miller’s odious stench shall ne’er again befoul this Palace!

CHEERS.

red&amp;whitewinecheers

The banishment of John, Part 2.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

We last left off in November, at the point in our story where commenter khms and I responded to (yet another one of) John Miller’s terrible comments. Having thought—nay, hoped—this was the end of it, I was surprised to see that John recently responded to us. And now khms has responded to him beautifully, and you should go read that; as has Rotary Wing, and you should go read that too, if for no other reason than to see two sparkling specimens of civil, mockery-free, reality-based rebuttals to John’s bigoted, vicious, fact-free conservative noise.

But now it’s my turn. And I plan to relish dismembering the horrifying shitshow that is the mind of John Miller, conservative—for the very last time.

NOTE: It is always worth remembering that there is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither facts nor reason will sway them in the direction of accepting reality—in fact, the opposite effect is just as likely to occur. There are, however, two important exceptions to the utter pointlessness of engaging with conservatives. The first is for the infotainment of other people, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, beloved Loyal Readers™, etc. The second is for the pleasure to be found in sharpening one’s own rhetorical fangs, either to prepare for the aforementioned audience, or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to determine under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment as well as material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking, I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.

__________

First, let us all behold with awe and wonder John’s retort in its entirety:

KHMS, been to Marseilles, Paris, London or Bradford recently? Watched TV or read a newspaper? Half the children born in France and Britain are born as Muslims – despite them being (around) 5% of the population. The second language in Marseilles? French. The first, Arabic.

Many of the Muslims in these communities have little respect for the cultures to which they have chosen to live. They want to destroy them and turn them into the shitholes from whence they have come.

They have high levels of welfare dependence, they breed like rabbits. If they don’t take over countries with the Kalashnikov or the suicide bomb they’ll certainly do it with the pork sword.

The freedoms that have attracted these people to Europe are the very freedoms that are under threat. America seems to have missed out on the Muslim onslaught. Australia hasn’t, having excepted anyone and everyone who chose to come her by boat over the last five years.

KHMS, go spend a week In Marseilles, London, Paris and Bradford, then report back.

Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers … These values need to be cherished and protected. I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’. Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here. We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis. If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around. You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies. It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules. If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else. People then have a choice, fit in or ship out.

Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women. These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

Well then. Shall we begin?

KHMS, been to Marseilles, Paris, London or Bradford recently? Watched TV or read a newspaper? Half the children born in France and Britain are born as Muslims – despite them being (around) 5% of the population.

BZZZT. I don’t know what TV John’s watching or newspapers he’s reading (though I have my suspicions!), but these birthrate claims are simply false. As in, WRONG:

Around the world, the global average Muslim family size has fallen from 4.3 children per family in 1995 to 2.9 in 2010, and is expected to fall below the population-growth rate, and converge with Western family sizes, by mid-century.

Muslims in France and Germany are now having only 2.2 children per family, barely above the national average. And while Pakistani immigrants in Britain have 3.5 children each, their British-born daughters have only 2.5. Across Europe, the difference between the Muslim and non-Muslim fertility rate has fallen from 0.7 to 0.4, and is headed toward a continent-wide convergence.

__________

The second language in Marseilles? French. The first, Arabic.

OMG THESE MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS SPEAK A FOREIGN LANGUAGE!!!11!!!! Even if this is true, it is not the slightest bit alarming in any way. You know how I know? I know because there are many, many cities and towns in the United States where the primary language spoken is not English. In the state of California, 43.8% of people over 5 years old speak a language other than English at home, and that figure rises to over 90% in cities and towns across that state. (And that’s to say nothing of enormous, heavily populated ethnic-minority and immigrant neighborhoods that make up large swaths of California’s major cities, like Los Angeles and San Francisco.) And guess what? No one except conservatives gives a shit. Well, the rest of us care because we want non-English speaking immigrants and their children to have access to the resources they need to learn basic English proficiency. And unlike John, we all understand that immigrant populations acquire English fluency by the second generation (frequently accompanied by the loss of fluency in their family language, unfortunately).

__________

Many of the Muslims in these communities have little respect for the cultures to which they have chosen to live. They want to destroy them and turn them into the shitholes from whence they have come.

WRONG:

Actually, Muslims change their cultural views dramatically when they emigrate. For example, 62% of American Muslims say that “a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of Palestinians are addressed” — a rate barely lower than that of average Americans (67%), and vastly ahead of the miniscule response among Middle Eastern Muslims — for whom between 20% and 40% agreed with that statement.

Similarly, 39% of American Muslims and 47% of German Muslims say they tolerate homosexuality, compared to single-figure responses in most Islamic countries — and those rates are rising with each immigrant generation. On these important questions, Muslim immigrants are converging with Western values fast.

__________

They have high levels of welfare dependence,

Actually, it is true that immigrants generally have significantly higher levels of welfare use than native-born US citizens. Much of that gap is accounted for by lower education levels, language barriers and other factors leading to lower pay among some of our largest immigrant populations. But! It is also true that immigrant households generally are significantly more likely to have workers than native households:

Of legal immigrant households, 85 percent had one or more workers, as did 95 percent of illegal immigrant households and 76 percent of native households.

If those two facts seem contradictory, consider that welfare as it currently exists in the US is designed to supplement low-wage workers, among whom there is a disproportionate share of immigrants.

But we were talking about Muslims specifically. It is much more difficult to find data on US welfare use and religious affiliation—at least if we discount sources like Breitbart, World News Daily, Eagle Forum and other right-wing propaganda outlets best known for distortion levels that would have made Jimi Hendrix scream in pain and then set himself on fire instead of his guitar. Also, the US census does not ask questions about religion, so it is difficult to determine how many Muslims there are and where. But there are some things we do know that have a bearing on Muslims and their (alleged) uniquely high levels of welfare dependence.

Muslim Americans have income levels that match the US public. Immigrant Muslims are slightly more affluent than native-born Muslims: 41% of all Muslim Americans and 45% of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher, compared to the national average of 44%. Among high-income earners, 19% of immigrant Muslims claim annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher, compared to the U.S. average of 17 %. This is likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.*
*[Text excerpted from Strengthening America: The Civic and Political Integration of Muslim Americans, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, © 2007; Statistical data excerpted from Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, Pew Research Center, May 22, 2007; via the U.S. State Department.]

Muslim Americans are highly educated. “[40%] of Muslims say they have a college degree, making them the second most highly educated religious group surveyed after Jews (61 percent), compared with 29 percent of Americans overall who say they have a college degree, according to Gallup [PDF]. That carries across gender lines, with Muslim females being the second-most educated religious group in the country, after Jewish females.”

Sadly, because he is a proud, card-carrying math illiterate, John will not understand any of that.

__________

they breed like rabbits.

WRONG.

__________

If they don’t take over countries with the Kalashnikov or the suicide bomb

If that’s their plan, they really better step up their game over here.

__________

they’ll certainly do it with the pork sword.

WRONG.

_________

The freedoms that have attracted these people to Europe are the very freedoms that are under threat.

Perhaps Muslim immigrants are attracted to the “freedom” of living in a place that isn’t being occupied, bombed, destroyed, exploited and/or otherwise destabilized by Western governments and their agents? Or “freedom” from violent Islamists created, armed and empowered by the West? I mean, even John can probably grok the fact that by far, most victims of Muslim terrorism are other Muslims.

Or maybe not.  :|

The freedoms under threat in Europe are the same freedoms under threat in the US—not from Muslims, mind you, but from conservatives, who currently allow Muslims to be used as a convenient pretext for radically undermining democracy, civil rights and the rule of law—a.k.a. freedom. See, e.g., mass surveillance, mass incarceration, police militarization, illegal wars, press freedom erosion, lawless drone assassinations and elite immunity from large-scale crimes, just off the top of my head.

But somehow I doubt those are the freedoms John worries about. No, apparently there are other, Very Important FREEDOMS™ under imminent threat from small and politically powerless populations of Muslims.

__________

America seems to have missed out on the Muslim onslaught.

Not for long: they’re among the fastest growing immigrant groups to the US. And, once again, no one cares except conservatives. Because the rest of us know we are a nation with a long history of immigration (and colonization—a topic for another time), and we know that immigrants assimilate within a few generations. But more to the point, there isn’t exactly an “onslaught” in Europe, either:

In fact, we now have several large-scale projections based on population-growth trends and immigration rates which show that the Muslim populations of Europe are growing increasingly slowly and that by the middle of this century — even if immigration rates are not reduced — the proportion of Muslims in Europe will probably peak somewhere short of 10% (it is currently around 7%). By that point, Muslims will have family sizes and age profiles not that different from Europe in general.

And what if it’s even double that? Say, 20%? Immigrants assimilate—unless shitweasels like John see to it that they cannot, of course.

__________

Australia hasn’t, having excepted [sic] anyone and everyone who chose to come her  [sic] by boat over the last five years.

WRONG. And that’s a real bang-up job you guys are doing over there, too. Goddamn paragons of human rights, to which we can all only hope to aspire!

Jeezus.

__________

KHMS, go spend a week In Marseilles, London, Paris and Bradford, then report back.

Sounds fantastic! Hey khms, if you go let me know when and where you’ll be and I’ll try to come meet up with you. And while we’re having a ball touring around some of the great cities of Europe, John will go spend a week investigating Australian immigration policy (including its history of white European immigration and its present-day immigrant detention centres) and report back to us.

I AM SURE.

__________

Stay tuned for Part 3.

palacehappyface

Oww.

I was all set to ditch you guys, unceremoniously. It’s not that I don’t love my Loyal Readers™—perish the thought! It’s just that I have these…these…obligations every December, and they stress me the fuck out in countless ways, large and small. Though the temperatures in NYC have been downright subtropical these days, I was looking forward to escaping to the actual subtropics, as a reward to myself for not strangling all those Salvation Army bell ringers to death with my bare hands. Well, not too many of them. It’s Christmas ferchrissakes! I’m not a monster, people.

Or maybe I am? Non-holiday related deadlines are now looming: I owe a piece to TPJ Magazine in two days for which I have not written word one, and I’ve also been dragging my ass WAY too long on Secular Woman‘s HerStory Project (I’m sorry Elsa!), for which my only excuse is: you don’t know my family.

Anyway on December 26 I changed my Facebook pic to Vacation Iris, my cover photo to “gone fishin” and offered up my goodbyes, ta-tas, good job on the War on Christmas, Happy New Years, etc. Then I flew to Miami and met my friend Scotty at Yardbird for a fabulous dinner. (FYI: cocktails with friends from NYC always taste better in Miami. TRUE FACT.)

vacationirisVacation Iris.

This very morning I was hiking along the shallow surf of South Beach, taking pictures of my feet in the water (as one does) and gushing histrionically to My Amazing Lover™ that this, THIS, was one of life’s most magical pleasures.

“Are those jellyfish?” he asked of the gelatinous globs sparkling in the sun along the tide line. “I have no idea,” I said. “They seem kinda small for jellyfish? But hey, ocean critters are weird.”

On our way back, I stepped barefoot on the umpteenth patch of seaweed and heard a loud pop. “Hahaha,” I cackled. “That sounded like a balloon!” Within seconds a toe on my left foot was ablaze with pain. I pulled it out of the water and took a closer look: no obvious cuts or punctures. Indeed, it looked perfectly normal, or at least as normal as its doppelganger on my right foot. BUT HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS. Stinging, throbbing, aching, right down into the bone.

By the time I got back to the hotel it had only worsened. The blazing pain had now spread to my big toe and the ball of my foot. “What is this fuckery?!” I whined, and proceeded to google the shit out of this fuckery. “Miami beach pop sound pain” yielded various critiques of Gloria Estefan records, but alas nothing remotely related to my excruciating predicament. (Fortunately, My Amazing Lover’s Google-fu is far superior to mine.)

It turns out those gelatinous blobs strewn along the shoreline looked an awful lot like this:

Portuguese_Man-O-War_(Physalia_physalis)Allow me to introduce you to Physalia physalis, also known as “Portuguese man-of-war.” Interestingly:

The stinging, venom-filled nematocysts in the tentacles of the Portuguese man o’ war can paralyze small fish and other prey. Detached tentacles and dead specimens (including those that wash up on shore) can sting just as painfully as the live organism in the water and may remain potent for hours or even days after the death of the organism or the detachment of the tentacle.

Stings usually cause severe pain to humans, leaving whip-like, red welts on the skin that normally last two or three days after the initial sting, though the pain should subside after about 1 to 3 hours (depending on person).

It’s now been seven hours. A glass of sangria. A bottle of rosé. And counting. The pain is fucking excruciating, and so far shows no signs of abating.

However, the venom can travel to the lymph nodes and may cause, depending on the amount of venom, a more intense pain…There can also be serious effects, including fever, shock, and interference with heart and lung function. Stings may also cause death, although this is extremely rare.

!!! “Extremely rare” is good, amirite?

Physalia physalis features a gas-filled bladder it uses for buoyancy, which I am happy to report (FOR SCIENCE!) makes a delightful “pop” when crushed underfoot.

Also, I will be referring to these creatures as “sea squirrels” from now on. Fuckers.

That god, tho.

[CONTENT NOTE: mass shootings, terrorism, graohic description of rape, domestic violence. No violent images.]

A longtime Loyal Reader™ sent us an image of yesterday’s New York Daily News cover, which we found quite interesting.dailynewsThe Daily News, if you are blissfully unacquainted, is a New York metro-area tabloid that could perhaps best be described as the unholy offspring of the city’s two other daily rags, the execrable New York Times and Rupert Murdoch’s bird cage liner The New York Post. Its editorial slant is yawningly predictable and pro-status quo; its coverage of the pope’s recent visit, for example, fawning. In a word: conservative. That is why it is extraordinary to see this headline in giant screaming letters: “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.” The “this” refers to the latest shoot-’em-up that as of this writing has left 14 dead in San Bernadino.

I don’t know about you, but I read that as a scathing rebuke of some god or other (it’s not entirely clear to me which one). To add insult to injury, the cover features tweets from four prominent Republicans posturing about prayer—their single, inept and reflexive response to such tragedies—and highlights the fact that these very “cowards” are among the only few people on Earth in a position to actually do something about US gun violence. Then, as a final insult to Zeus (or whoever), prayers to the deity in question are openly derided by the Daily News as “meaningless platitudes.”

BOOM.

This is fantastic news, obviously: I think it’s fair to surmise that the paper’s editors have been reading my blog and finally taking the importance of god mockery to heart, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, speaking of shitty gods and shitty people, it will come as no shock to readers that the recent Planned Parenthood terrorist—who I will not name here because seriously, fuck him—is a conservative Christian, a violent, abusive, controlling, misogynist, rapist, stalker and wife batterer, with a looooong history of shitweaselry. It’s all good though, because his god totally forgives him for anything and everything he does, no matter how evil. One of his three ex-wives said in court papers, “He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases.” Christ, what an asshole. By which of course I mean the god Christ is a fucking asshole. This is the kind of shit he is only too happy to forgive:

  • Planned Parenthood shooter douche made advances to a mall employee who repeatedly rebuffed him—quite justifiably, as it turns out:

[He] reportedly began to harass the woman on and off the clock. He followed her to her home and on Nov. 29, 1992, he reportedly ambushed her as she attempted to take out the trash.

“The suspect then allegedly put a knife to the victim’s neck and forced her back inside her residence,” said a police report about the incident. “The suspect then allegedly forced the victim down into the couch, struck her in the mouth with his fist, and then sexually assaulted her.”

The assault continued with [the conservative Christian] dragging the woman into a bedroom and continuing to rape her there.

His second wife, to whom he was married at the time of the rape, described the Christ-forgiven rapist in divorce filings as “controlling, abusive and serially unfaithful.” She said he “routinely gambled away the family’s money [but] was ever reluctant to provide for his wife and children financially.”

Hot-tempered and unstable, he “erupts into fury in a matter of seconds,” said [the evangelical Christian’s] second wife Barbara Mescher to attorneys. In her time with [the devout follower], she testified, she continually “lived in fear and dread of his emotional and physical abuse.”

Also:

“[The white male] has a history of arrests in South Carolina out of Colleton and Beaufort counties, records show,” said the Post and Courier‘s Glenn Smith and Melissa Boughton. “A background search completed by The Post and Courier found that [the conservative man] was arrested in 2003 on a cruelty to animals charge but was found not guilty in 2004. He was charged under the state’s Peeping Tom law in 2002 but that charge, too, was later dismissed, according to a background search.”

  • A different ex-wife “called police in 1997 after a beating from [the forgiven Christian], but like the Charleston rape victim, she ultimately declined to press charges.”

Hey, if the god of the bible forgives him, why even bother to prosecute amirite?

Now okay, I admit it, here is where I get a little…confused. A timely report on a survey just issued by a Christian organization reveals that Jeezus followers have the most abortions, by far:

lifewayabortionchartSurely this Jeezus can forgive them too, and presumably doesn’t need the likes of this asshole shooting at police and executing strangers on his behalf? Wow, theology is hard!

But if you take nothing else away from this little rant, take this: forgiveness is overrated. And so are gods.

__________

The Palace hereby extends a royal welcome to all of its new readers at the New York Daily News editorial board! Watch and learn, editors. Watch and learn.

palacehappyfaceHave a nice day.

DEATH TO SQUIRRELS. -UPDATED. -UPDATE 2.

People, there is some VERY disturbing news coming out of California. No, not the devastating droughts and unprecedented wildfires, or the L.A.P.D. getting cartoonist Ted Rall fired from the Los Angeles Times by dropping an audio tape that of course turned out to be bullshit. I refer, of course, to the squirrels.

You see, part of Yosemite National Park has been closed by health officials because, it seems, a second tourist there has contracted the plague. The plague! As in, you know, the Black Death? That little pandemic that killed an estimated 30–60% of Europe’s total population in the fourteenth century? YES THAT PLAGUE.

And guess how it’s being spread. Go ahead, guess.

By fucking squirrels.

Squirrels are a fucking menace.

I need to come clean here with Loyal Readers™. You might expect that since I live in downtown Manhattan, if I were to seriously hate on a fellow species–and let’s face it, all species are fellow species—it would probably be pigeons or something. Rats. Maybe cockroaches, which, as far as I’m concerned, ought to be the official symbol of New York City based on their sheer impudence and tenacity alone. Or perhaps those giant waterbugs everyone thinks New Yorkers are totally exaggerating about, until they actually see one and realize that some insects never got the memo that the Permian era ended hundreds of millions of years ago.

NOPE. I have come to loathe and detest no species on Earth so much as those members of the Order Rodentia, Suborder Sciuromorpha, Family Sciuridae. Well, besides H. sapiens, but that should go without saying. (See: virtually every post on this blog.)

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. But Iris! Squirrels are soooo cyoooot! How could you harbor such ill will towards our adorable little bushy-tailed cousins?

Okay first of all, you are woefully uninformed about the true nature and utter depravity of these beasts, an unfortunate and increasingly urgent state of affairs I intend to remedy shortly, and at length. (Wait, what?) Second, “ill will” does not even begin to cover it.

The squirrel-plague nexus.

Yersinia_pestis_fluorescent

Yersinia pestis bacteria. THE FUCKING PLAGUE, people.

In the wild, the plague bacteria Yersinia pestis circulates via flea bites among animal populations, particularly rodents—and squirrels are fucking rodents. Humans, such as our Yosemite tourists, become infected when bitten by a flea that has bitten a plague-ridden rodent. (Like, oh, say…a squirrel.) But that’s not the only disease vector. Once infected, humans can spread the plague amongst themselves by coughing or sneezing, contact (including sexual contact) with an infected person, indirect contact like touching a contaminated surface, breathing air under certain conditions where the plague bacteria can remain airborne, and the most disgusting transmission route of all, “fecal-oral,” from ingesting food or water contaminated with the diseased shit—literally, the actual shit—of the plague-infected. Think: Ebola. But with squirrels.

Take a look at how fast the plague spread in the fourteenth century, and consider that back then, exposure to infected populations would have happened much more slowly than in the age of widespread air travel and crowded trains.

BlackdeathSPREADNow it is true that these days the plague is generally treatable with antibiotics, which did not exist during the Black Death pandemic because Jeezus “forgot” to tell us about them. However, the plague can still be fatal if left untreated for whatever reason, including misdiagnosis, or lack of access to quality health care in this truly exceptional country. Just think about that the next time you have “fever, chills, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes,” and your doctor tells you to just go home, get some rest and drink lots of fluids. By the way, do you think the United States has a stash of antibiotics for 321,216,397 people? And what happens if (when?) an adaptive mutation leaves Yersinia pestis impervious to antibiotics?

Anyway. It turns out the two recent cases of squirrel-plague in Yosemite tourists are by no means isolated incidents, either. In fact:

Since 1970, 40 cases of plague have been reported in California, and nine people have died from the disease.

OMFG. I had no idea.

Squirrels are escalating their attacks.

Last year, a squirrel caused $300,000 in damage to a community center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Just this summer alone:

  • A Michigan police department has named a squirrel a suspect in a $128,000 nut heist.

squirrelmugshotDO NOT APPROACH!
This squirrel is considered armed and dangerous.

  • Then, a squirrel was caught on camera devouring A FUCKING SNAKE in a Texas Park.

    squirreleatingsnake

    Oh, did you think they only ate nuts? NOT ANYMORE.

  • A drunk squirrel—yes, you read that right—caused massive damage at a UK pub. When workers arrived they naturally assumed the place had been robbed by H. sapiens: beer all over the floor, glasses and bottles knocked off the shelves, a real shitshow. Then a slow moving squirrel staggered out. The little fucker managed to turn on a tap, and drained (or drank!) more than $450 worth of beer. WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE BEER.
  • On Friday in Clark County, Washington, a suicide terrorist squirrel bit into an overhead power line in order to set himself ablaze and fall to the ground, thereby setting a patch of grass on fire. Fortunately, firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze and no one was harmed. This time.

The squirrels are clearly escalating their attacks. They have become much more brazen and organized, as these pictures I just found with a quick Google search on the Internets clearly attest:

squirrelcompBe afraid. Be very afraid.

Shit gets personal.

When squirrels begin to overpopulate an area, they will cause damage to trees, shrubs, ornamental plantings, gardens, and “structures”—as in, your fucking house. Squirrel populations are normally kept in check by environmental factors including weather patterns, predators (foxes, hawks and owls) and the availability of food. This is why no one should feed squirrels, ever, not even accidentally: squirrel-proof bird feeders are A Thing for good reason.

Well. It has come to our attention that the Palace’s neighbors—whose outdoor space is separated from our magnificent gardens by a fence—have been feeding squirrels. ON PURPOSE. They even have a fucking sign and everything!

squirrelxingOH. NO. THEY. DIDN’T.

As a result of this unconscionable perfidy, large numbers of squirrels have been digging burrows all over the place, uprooting and eating our bulbs, flinging mulch hither and fro, PLANTING THEIR FREE FUCKING PEANUTS THAT THE NEIGHBORS ARE FEEDING THEM which very quickly sprout up into unsightly peanut plants, and just generally trashing the joint with wild abandon.

castlepalacegardensOur Humble Abode: The Palace and surrounding gardens.*

We read somewhere that dogwood berries are poisonous to squirrels, so of course we planted a big dogwood tree right up against the shared fence line last fall. Yet we are still overrun with the little fuckers. We have doubled the gardening staff and landscaping crews, and still we can barely keep up with all of the wanton destruction. Last year, My Amazing Lover™ asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I told him a high-powered BB gun with a scope. He declined to purchase me one, which, okay, I admit that was probably for the best. But I did insist on decorating the Palace Yule tree with owl ornaments in order to make an anti-squirrel political statement.

Action plan.

This much is clear: all of us will need to do our parts to at the very least mitigate the pestilential scourge of squirrels, if not eradicate them entirely. We certainly have our work cut out for us too, because of so many unrepentant assholes—including my very own mother! Can you even believe this shit?!—who insist on feeding them, or even keeping them as pets. (?!) These people cannot be reasoned with. As a first step, then, we must educate ourselves and any others who can be reached before the Squirrelpocalypse is upon us and it’s too late.

Here are some links to get started:

How to Stop Squirrels. Squirrels will happily destroy your garden, invade your attic, and eat your fucking house: they can and will chew through pretty much anything that isn’t metal. This website offers tips, tactics and product suggestions for keeping your Palace and surrounding areas squirrel-free.

Natural predators of squirrels. I propose that we immediately scale up massive breeding programs for rat snakes, hawks, great horned owls and barred owls, red and gray foxes and bobcats.

“Squirrels were once major pests.” Read about the experiences of early European settlers in Ohio and see for yourself just how bad things can get. TRIGGER WARNING: this is the stuff of nightmares and horror movies—and yes, it can still happen today.

Squirrel hunting tips on how to get started. (<—Self-explanatory.)

Know your squirrel hunting season. For example, in most of New York State the hunting season for gray, black and fox squirrels starts September 1 and continues through February, with a bag limit of six. That’s six daily. RED SQUIRRELS CAN BE HUNTED YEAR ROUND WITHOUT LIMITS.

squirrelhuntingseasonNYSquirrel Recipes. (These are via the Missouri Department of Conservation, but there are many others.) Squirrel is one of the most ethical meats one can consume, and apparently pretty tasty too. Hey, don’t knock it until you try it.

braisedsquirrelBraised squirrel with bacon, mushrooms and Pinot Noir.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: cook your squirrels thoroughly to make sure you KILL ALL OF THE FUCKING PLAGUE BACTERIA.

It’s time to wake up, people. Forget the War on Terror. And we definitely do not need a War on Drugs. What we need is a war on squirrels. These demon spawn pose perhaps the greatest threat human civilization has ever faced.

nosquirrels#deathtosquirrels

__________
*Due to security concerns, we obviously cannot reveal publicly what the Palace and its surrounding gardens actually look like. The pictures herein are simply meant to give readers an idea of the overwhelming scale of the squirrel problem we are dealing with here.

UPDATE: Texas firefighters are rescuing squirrels. JFC.

UPDATE 2: In Verona, Wisconsin another suicide terrorist squirrel blew up some electrical shit and disrupted power to 2,172 customers. And in Eagle Mountain, Utah, another squirrel pulled the same shit, leaving 3,125 homes and businesses in the dark.
#signsofthesquirrelpocalypse

#youareDylannRoof

[CONTENT NOTE: racism, ableism (mental health-flavored), transmisogyny.]

ericksonBecause it just wasn’t terrible enough for Fox News to frame a mass murder of nine black people at their church by an unequivocally racist white man as an “attack on faith,” here comes Fox pundit Erick Erickson to straighten everybody out about the Real Problem™. You see, liberal society is plagued by “a mental illness” characterized by “overwhelming narcissism and delusion” — yes, a conservative actually said that with a straight face — and therefore “cannot recognize what crazy or evil looks like.” Exhibit A for this little theory? Caitlyn Jenner. That’s right: accepting trans people is proof positive that liberals are ignoring “real evil” and allowing mental health problems to run rampant.

After dismissing out of hand the obvious and proven solution of gun control to virtually eliminate mass murders, Erickson said:

“A society that looks at a 65 year old male Olympian and, with a straight face, declares him a her and ‘a new normal’ cannot have a conversation about mental health or evil because that society no longer distinguishes normal from crazy and evil from good.”

Now because conservatives are constitutionally incapable of meaningful self-reflection, their dehumanizing rhetoric and vile policies can never be the problem. This is why they resort to all sorts of fact-free rationalizations, victim-blaming, denialism and projection, rather than ever admit to being factually and morally wrong and changing their views accordingly. If conservative policy isn’t working, well, that just means we clearly need more of it. Q.E.D. Let’s arm the clergy!

I can damn well recognize what evil looks like. It looks like Dylann Roof. It also looks like Erick Erickson. Because he will never, ever take a hard look in the mirror and own his repulsive, deadly and toxic shit, I have taken the liberty of illustrating what the rest of us see when we look at him.

erickericksonErick Erickson.
If the bowl cut fits… #youareDylannRoof.

[h/t the fierce and fabulous feminace for inspiring this graphic, by calling Roof “RacistFuck McBowlCut.”]

WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Evil supervillain’s lair discovered in NYC.

The early afternoon was sunny and warm yesterday as My Amazing Lover™ and I strolled through West Chelsea toward Hudson River Park. Though the route would take us out of our way, we were hoping to catch a cool breeze coming off the water as we made our way downtown, back to the West Village. Our path also held the sweet, sweet promise of encountering fewer annoying tourists than taking the High Line, and fewer ginormous-baby-stroller-toting brunch-goers than a more direct route down Eighth Ave.

If you’ve never been to West Chelsea, it is an architectural wonderland. Spared from the ($electively applied) restrictions of the West Village historic district, in recent years the neighborhood has become a Mecca of sorts for wealthy moguls and visionaries erecting all sorts of innovative and whimsical structures. I’ve always been partial to Shigeru Ban’s Metal Shutter Houses on 19th Street, a short walk from the West Side Highway, where you can also see Frank Gehry’s IAC building and Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue.

IACNouvelFrank Gehry’s IAC Building (2007); behind it and to the left is Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue (2010).
[IMAGE: Beyond My Ken]

Then there is Renzo Piano’s much ballyhooed new Whitney Museum, which, I’m sorry to say my friends, I do not get. Like, at all.

WhitneyfromtheHudsonWhitney Museum from the Hudson River. NO.
[IMAGE: Bill Benzon]

What makes the area even more intriguing architecturally is the juxtaposition—sometimes quite literally—of old structures with new. West Chelsea still retains quiet, tree-lined streets lined with low-rise brownstones sporting exquisite ironwork, none of which would be out of place in the West Village. Then there are the iconic London Terrace Apartments, connected structures that occupy the entire city block bounded by 23rd and 24th Streets and Eighth and Ninth Aves. Constructed during 1929-30, the complex has been called home by some of the city’s most famous residents, from Debby Harry to Chelsea Clinton.

londonterraceVictor C. Farrar’s London Terrace,
with older low-rise townhouses visible in the foreground.

[IMAGE: Beyond My Ken]

londonterracedetailLondon Terrace detail.

Yesterday the sky was cloudless and the sun was strong, so we Whitey McWhitepersons, who naturally hadn’t bothered to apply sunblock or hats, kept to the south side of 23rd Street for the occasional patches of shade on offer. Still, it was sweltering. I was beginning to wish that I could somehow conjure up some ice cold water when I first saw it, and suddenly it was my blood that was running ice cold. Ladies and Gentlemen and other people of any gender and/or no gender whatsoever, I give you: 344 W. 23rd Street. A.K.A. The Cheyney.

thecheyney344 W. 23rd Street. A.K.A. The Cheyney.
[IMAGE: Iris Vander Pluym]

Now you might think evil supervillains would be smarter than to put up signage announcing the location of their secret lairs, but I can assure you that is not the case. Their egos are too enormous so they simply cannot resist—although they often misspell their own names, as Dick Cheney obviously did in this case, in a futile effort to throw certain Intrepid Internet Journalists™ off the scent. He is a clever old weasel, I’ll give him that, hiding his hideout in plain sight like this. I mean, the building is nondescript by any standard. But plunked down among this neighborhood’s glittering architectural gems, it is veritably camouflaged if not utterly invisible. Note too the aluminum bars on the cellar windows: I shudder to think what kinds of Dark Arts are being practiced in that dungeon as we speak!

I quickly put it all together and announced proudly and boldly that I, Your Humble Monarch™, had single-handedly uncovered the Gotham lair of evil supervillain Darth Cheney. Incredibly, my partner remained entirely unpersuaded. But the more My Amazing Lover™ tried to talk me out of my conclusion, the more absolutely certain I became that it was true. “Don’t you see? That’s exactly what he wants us to think!” I insisted, “You’re playing right into his hands!”

Some people just have no appreciation for Intrepid Internet Journalist Genius™.

It would be a few hours before I would contact the International Criminal Court with my invaluable insights and information; I had to take every precaution to ensure none of this would be traced back to me. But in the meantime we trudged on silently in the merciless heat. Shade was scarce along the water, and the Hudson River yielded no cool breezes. Worse, my sandals were giving me painful blisters, and I felt parched and weak.

That’s right: I was in Hell. And I knew that at that moment one of Satan’s very own minions was not far away, gloating. But I can promise Loyal Readers™ this: if he dares set one foot on Perry Street, I’ma totally moon him.