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Filling Up My (Public Speaking) Dance Card!


This is exciting! Here’s a list of my up-&-coming speaking engagements:

Friday, November 21, at Wayland Union High School in Wayland, Michigan.
TOPIC: Were Ex-Christians Ever Really Christians?

Monday, November 24, at Williams Auditorium at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.
TOPIC: I’ll be the atheist on the panel discussing interfaith.

Sunday, December 7, at Schuler Books & Music on 28th St. in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
TOPIC: Interfaith Atheism (& The Righteous Mind)

Want me to speak to your club, organization, church or group? Check out my  bio listed at the Secular Student Alliance Speakers Bureau, and email me at! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Paleocrat!


Euthanasia! Elections! Electronics! Oh, my!

Joe & Jeremiah at The Paleocrat HQ, November 17, 2014.

Joe & Jeremiah at The Paleocrat HQ, November 17, 2014.

No PaleoRadio today — roofers are working (loudly) on the next-door neighbor’s house. Instead, Joe Elder & I biding the time by editing recent shows! Keep an eye out for them right here at!

(Hooray! for rolling with the punches!)

In the meantime, catch up with us by watching our most recent episode (below)! We talked about Brittany Maynard’s decision to end her life, the pros/cons of elections, and the controversy sparked by my blog, “When Nintendo Killed My Playground“! Twas a non-stop hour-of-power!

Sincerely, The Paleocrat

The Graveyard of the Gods


“Religions (and the gods they serve) have come & gone. Most of them probably thought extinction could never happen to them, to their churches, to their deities; but there’s no lack of plots at the Graveyard of the Gods… where the vacancy sign never goes dark.”

Jeremiah Bannister‘s remarks during a conversation with John Moseman of Banmen Country.

(For more on this subject, read H.L Mencken’s timeless essay, “Memorial Service”.)

(VIDEO) Joe Elder: ISIS & Antiwar Foreign Policy

In this video, Joe Elder discusses the ongoing issues in the Middle East and why United States intervention is not the answer. Tune into the PaleoRadio podcast every monday at 11:30am on YouTube.


Joe Elder is a public speaker, comic, and host of PaleoRadio and Southpaws Radio in Grand Rapids, MI. Follow him on Twitter @jayells22PaleoRadio loves YouTube subscribers!

Thursday Nights Belong to Banmen Country!

Banmen Country, LIVE on Thursdays from 9-10 p.m. EST, only on The Paleocrat Network!

Banmen Country, LIVE on Thursdays from 9-10 p.m. EST, only on The Paleocrat Network!

Tonight’s show is going to rock! We’ll be Thursday-night quarterbacking the elections, a controversial Noah’s Ark display on public property in Delaware, and the controversial death of Brittany Maynard! Tune in LIVE at 9 p.m. EST (or on-the-go!) at The Paleocrat Network!

In the meantime, catch up with us by checking out last week’s premiere!

Is Michigan’s Vote on the Wolf Hunt Relevant?


Yesterday, Michiganders let their voices be heard in opposition to the 2014 Michigan Wolf Hunt Proposal limited to 3 zones in the Upper Peninsula. 55% voted against the proposal while only 45% were in favor of the hunt.

While some will be rejoicing, it may be a short lived victory. Public Act 21, which was passed back in May 2014, allows Michigan’s Natural Resource Commission (NRC) to declare game animals and establish hunting seasons without legislative action. This has basically rendered last night’s vote irrelevant.

That means the only two proposals on the ballot this fall – both seeking to stop wolf hunting – may not matter much at all, a reality that has rekindled a long-running debate on the balance of power between lawmakers and the voters that elect them.” Jonathan Oosting wrote in his recent article on

PA21 has sparked a response by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, an animal activist group that has contributed $1 million in petition drives against the hunt. They intend to file a lawsuit to challenge PA21, arguing that it is “overly broad.”

While the debate will wage on in the courtroom, it also has been continuing throughout large cities and small villages in rural Michigan. Is the wolf hunt morally right? Or scientifically justified?

The answer is yes. Adam Bump is the bear and furbearer specialist for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He also has a Bachelor of Science in wildlife management from Michigan State University and a Master of Science in wildlife conservation from the University of Massachusetts. He recently wrote an article in support of Michigan’s wolf hunt:

“We found multiple areas with persistent conflicts over the last three years. We then reviewed the effectiveness of targeted lethal and non-lethal techniques — such as guard animals, fencing and changes in farming practices – in resolving these conflicts. In many of the areas these tools were effective on their own. However, we identified three areas that have seen persistent conflict situations despite the use of non-lethal and targeted lethal techniques. These areas had conditions that met the provisions for consideration for a hunt under the Wolf Management Plan.”

The DNR & NRC are both in agreement that a very regimented, organized, hunt in 3 specific zoned areas were appropriate for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This was not a violent rampage against wolves as a species, but a targeted hunt to help manage a high amount of negative human & wolf interactions.

Perspective is necessary in this situation. Wolves are beautiful, magnificent creatures. They belong in the Upper Peninsula and in midwestern boreal forests. The thing is, so do we. We belong in Michigan in the same exact way the wolf does. We also have a right to manage populations of species that we interact with, due to the fact that we are (to date) the only animal on earth with the ability to predict outcomes within our environment.

This isn’t an unfamiliar concept. We rationalize how to re-introduce & grow populations of all kinds of species based on our predictions as to what the acceptable population numbers should be.

No one disagrees with that when we’re building a population up. Where the trouble comes in, is when we have to deal with a population at high levels.

Below is a TED Talks presentation by George Monbiot discussing how rewilding wolves in Yellowstone National Park has benefited the ecosystem.

Joe Elder is a Public Speaker & host of PaleoRadio & SouthpawsRadio in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Follow him @jayells22. PaleoRadio loves Youtube Subscribers!

Let’s Play Where’s Waldo!


Photo taken by Joel Bissell of The Grand Rapids Press, 2014.

Photo taken by Joel Bissell of The Grand Rapids Press, 2014.

Let’s play Where’s Waldo! Can you spot our very own Paleocrat (Jeremiah Bannister) in the crowd at the Winnie Brinks for State Representative viewing party last night? It was held at The Meanwhile Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jeremiah volunteered to be embedded for the special Election Day episode of the Southpaws radio program!

The picture was taken by Joel Bissell, a visual journalist with The Grand Rapids Press.

Why I’m Not Voting


John Moseman of “John Moseman LIVE!”

John Moseman weighs in on the debate over voter abstention. 

I can already feel the glare! I can hear the patriotic rhetoric now, screaming, “If you don’t vote, don’t complain!” or “It’s your duty as a citizen to vote!” These arguments sound great, no doubt, but here’s one for you: perhaps, and just maybe, I do not want to vote because no matter if/how I vote, my individual vote will not change the outcome. I know this because the last two presidential elections did not fair out for candidates I voted for. (I have to admit, though, that it was for the better that Obama won over McCain/Palin, which was probably the worst Republican ticket in my lifetime.) My point being: I voted, and it didn’t matter.

I might reconsider this stance if we did not have the election fraud we do today, if we didn’t have groups actively bullying people at polls. I may also rethink my position if I thought the issue to be valuable enough. However, there are many bills & laws that sound good but often get overshadowed by the other crap in them. For example, how many bills are glutted with pork that could go to real people rather than being spent on things that have no bearing in the real world?

If someone wants to vote, whatever, that’s fine with me. But I don’t think the debate over abstention is so black & white. I remember back in 2012 being so motivated to vote out Barack Obama that I voted for Mitt Romney, a man I wouldn’t normally ever want to be in high office! Even after he said such awful things about lower-class income people struggling, I felt like I had to vote for Romney, who best reflected my pro-life stance–and all the lies of the Democrat Party notwithstanding, Romney was hardly a pro-life candidate.  I also wonder, “Why should I vote for someone promising to be different when, for the past six-months, the candidate flooded mailboxes with sleazy negative ads? Why should I reward negative campaigners with my vote? Because of the party? I don’t buy it.

Our system is broken. We are living in a time when millions upon millions of American voters are stuck having to vote for candidates they don’t want (or even like) or for laws they don’t support simply because the alternative is “the greater of two evils.”  Many of these candidates end up doing really bad things–they’re pitch was that they’re the “lesser of two evils!”–and that’s perpetuating the “us vs. them” dilemma undermining voter morale. (Voting must be more than simply pulling the lever for a candidate because of an R or a D after their name!)

Lately, our elections have become more about voting the lesser evil than passing the right laws or voting for the best candidate.

I’ll vote when I have real choices, when real independent and other third party candidates have equal time in major debates.

I’ll start voting when there is actually two different or hopefully three distinct choices to make instead of mesh mash of them.

I’ll vote when we get the lobbyists (who support both parties) out of Washington.

I’ll vote when the candidates start making good on their promises.

I will start voting when the candidates stop attacking voters like me–and the values systems we identify with–and start supporting those of us in communities all across the land who are struggling with real issues.

How many times have the parties told us that if we give them full power they will pass things we want or to get rid of things we do not like? Are voters ever permitted to stop listening to these professional liars?

Which makes me wonder: “Why are you still voting, especially if (and when) you see what I see?”

When Nintendo Killed My Playground

Credit: iStockphoto/Nick Schlax

Credit: iStockphoto/Nick Schlax

Technology has taken a toll on me. I’ve been a discontent for years, though, at least since 5th or 6th grade. It was the late ’80′s and my parents lived on St. Mary’s Lake in Battle Creek, Michigan. Our neighborhood was upper & middle class–St. Mary’s is a private lake–and there were a bunch of boys my age. Even cooler, they all loved playing outside! We played football and baseball in the park atop the hill, and two of us had basketball hoops. We’d play basketball for hours every day, well-after the sun went down! Sometimes our parents would get mad, screaming, “It’s time for bed! If I have to tell you again, you’re grounded!” (Apparently, they stopped believing “I’m coming, mom! Geesh!” after the ninth or tenth time.) But every day was packed with outdoor activities. Whether it was fishing for bass, riding bikes over Mr. Carter’s flowers, sledding down wickedly huge hills, playing badminton & croquet, or making the world’s most (dangerously) awesome underground fort, we did things as a group, and we were almost always outside.

Nintendo blew that world to fucking smithereens.

Everything changed; the park on the hill died a lonely death under the overgrowth from years of neglect and disrepair; the basketball nets and backboards got ratty from the weather; and while the underground fort remains, it remains only as a sort of symbolic ruin, covered in decades worth of leaves from autumns gone by. These were dramatic changes, and they were painfully visible to anyone with a functioning set of eyeballs.

Life quickly became an indoor activity. Football was traded in for Tecmo Bowl; basketball was swapped for Double-Dribble; and playing Excitebike, well, that replaced poppin’ wheelies off janky ramps made from random parts we found in the garage. With the rarest of nostalgic exceptions, the neighborhood was never the same.

That was a long time ago and ours isn’t the same world–not even close! It’s only become more technological; we live in the day and age of iPhones & iPads, of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, of YouTube, LinkedIn and Reddit (and that’s just the tip of the technological iceberg!). There’s also 24/7 on-demand television. And don’t forget about that subtle soundtrack most people have playing in the background while taking showers… while in the car… during work… while in stores… and even while sleeping. Ours surely is a civilization that shimmers and shines, where sights and sounds abound.

This is modern life.

Personal preferences notwithstanding, clocks rarely turn back and time stops for no one. Existence happens. And don’t get me wrong, Nintendo isn’t the boogieman! It’s one of a gazillion distractions we deal with face-to-screen every day. But this makes my point all the more poignant.

I’ve often been asked: are you saying we should all cut ourselves off entirely from social technologies? If one wishes to live as the Amish, maybe, but I don’t foresee–much less desire!–Swiss Anabaptism to be trending across the U.S. any time soon. But this says nothing whatsoever of lamentation or dissent. More importantly, and if we’ve learned much at all from history, it seems that there’s nearly always just cause for cautious consideration and that moderation has proven herself time and again to be the trustiest of our trustworthy handmaidens. Hell, it’s a proverbial truth that reformation is always in need of reformation. So why would the lessons learned from these truths not influence the way we approach technological innovations?  For fear of considering that wisdom may currently be getting suffocated to death between the two thieves of escapism and technocracy?

Honestly, I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer here. In fact, I don’t have a set-in-stone answer whatsoever. But reality is outside my brain, and outside my brain is a reality packed with billions of compulsive communicators with brains, an increasing number of whom are experiencing the throngs & throes of a world bursting at the seems with modern technologies. At the very least (and if nothing else), we’ve got the ingredients for giving a whack at thinking this whole technologies thing through. And if our talking requires some long-lost peace & quiet, we could always meet at the playground.

Can Microbiology Change How We Think & Behave?


Kevin Loria of Business Insider discusses a recent accidental discovery by scientists at Johns Hopkins and Nebraska Universities. It’s been revealed that a virus found in lake algae was affecting human cognition. While this seems unnatural, microbiology has a very obvious presence in the behavior modification of living organisms. Not only do animals use chemical warfare to manipulate others, but they also will use neurological attacks that actually make their hosts want to do their bidding!

While unnerving, this brings to light the reality that we all may not want to admit. In some cases, Micro-organisms may be able to steer us like we steer our cars. Below is a TED Talks presentation by Ed Yong about how parasites, viruses, and hosts play a vital role in everyday biology.

Joe Elder is a public speaker, skeptic,  and host of PaleoRadio & Southpaws Radio. We at PaleoRadio love Youtube subscribers! 

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