Friday, April 12, 2013
After having spent years searching for live video of Maestro playing My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama (a sentimental favorite in our house), I do believe I've got it.
And for afters, another Zappa great: Willie the Pimp.
[Frank wouldn't approve of me appending this post with the digital version of a warning label. So I won't.]
Posted by Deborah Newell Tornello at 10:18 PM
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
I admit it: there was a time, in the not-too-distant past, when I was (operative word: was) an enthusiastic fan of Chick-fil-A's delicious, creamy milkshakes.
No more. Even though the store is three minutes from my place in St. Pete. Even though, on a miserably hot spring or summer Florida afternoon, their milkshakes are things of beauty.
Mainly, it's the fault of the company's homobigoted CEO, Dan Cathy, who pushed me away with statements like this:
"We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit."(Presumably, then, he supports polygamy, selling daughters into slavery, and beating sons to death when they disappoint him. Oh, and no shrimp on their family dinner table. No cotton/poly blend tablecloth, either.)
Moreover, Chick-Fil-A is a generous financial backer of anti-equality and hate groups, having given them some $2 million in 2009 alone.
What a guy.
But to make all this even worse (as if that were possible), those milkshakes are horrifyingly calorie-dense, fat-laden, and sugar-saturated.
So I made my own milkshakes. I'm sure a lot of you are rolling your eyes--Really? Did she just figure out how to make shakes? Where did she come by that reputation for brains?--but I'm going to give you my "recipe", such as it is, just the same. Along with a breakdown of the nutrition data for each version. It should go without saying that my shake is much less expensive, too. Plus it will give you energy, as opposed to knocking you on your back with its artery-clogging throw-weight, and you needn't put on actual non-pajama clothes and leave your house in order to enjoy it, either.
Deborah's Kiss-Off, Chick-fil-A Strawberry Milkshake
1 1/2 cups whole frozen strawberries, organic if possible (make your own, or buy them in bags in the freezer section)
1 cup 1% low-fat milk (or low-fat soy milk)
3-4 packets of Stevia granules (my new favorite calorie-free sweetener)
A strong, powerful blender that doesn't jam up or get all squirrelly on you when you throw ice into it.
Once it's blended, crank it up a notch to get the shake looking really smooth. I like a very thick shake, one that's practically like semifreddo in consistency. You'll have the equivalent of one large or two small milkshakes. More or less.
(You can also make a gorgeous peach milkshake this way: substitute 1 1/2 cups frozen sliced peaches for the strawberries, and on top of the stevia, add a dash of cinnamon and a scant teaspoon of vanilla extract. If you really want to duplicate the Chick-fil-A experience, take a few extra slices of frozen peach, chop it into 1/4"-1/2" dice, and stir them into the shake when you've finished blending.)
Okay, the comparisons:
Deborah's Strawberry Milkshake
Fat: 2.5 g
Carbohydrates: 31.5 g
Sugar: 25.5 g
Chick-Fil-A's Strawberry Milkshake
Fat: 27 g
Carbohydrates: 115 g
Sugar: 104 g
HA! Take that, ye mean-spirited, hate-group-supporting, Old-Testament-misquoting promotors of obesity and diabetes.
Posted by Deborah Newell Tornello at 5:42 PM
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Attention "Supremes": People are not experiments.
People's lives are not experiments. People's families are not experiments. People's homes and businesses and visitation rights and survivorship benefits and wills...are not experiments.
People's civil rights are not experiments.
When you sidestepped the Constitution and installed in the White House a sociopathic idiot-child dry-drunk with a God complex?
That was an experiment.
Posted by Deborah Newell Tornello at 7:27 PM
Thursday, March 14, 2013
In a post today by the normally clear-eyed Jonathan Capehart -- and in The Washington Post, no less -- you will see plenty of admiration for the way the TSA handles children and the elderly (they get to keep their shoes and jackets on!) as well as cheery support for the some-animals-are-more-equal-than-others Pre-Check program:
Anyway, all I’m asking is that the TSA treat the rest of us the way it treats little kids and old folks. Since 2011, youngsters under age 12 have been allowed to keep their ubiquitous light-up shoes on. And those age 75 and older have been able to keep their footwear on since 2012.[. . .]
But there is a way around the shoe rule and others that would transport you back to the golden days of air travel when you could breeze through security and go right to your gate. It’s called TSA Pre. If the agency approves you after you’ve undergone its voluntary risk assessment, you get to keep your shoes, belt, and jackets on, and your laptop and plastic goody bag of 3 oz. toiletries get to stay in your carry-on.
Looks like I better sign up for this thing.
To Capehart and the TSA apologists alike (who, to my profound disappointment, are well represented in the article's comment section): I must remind you that just because the intrusive and often-painful gropings of sex organs (which in many instances are both abusive and, according to FBI definitions of sexual assault and rape, illegal), the needless and forced removal of prostheses and artificial limbs, or any one of countless debasements and offenses to human dignity have not happened to you personally, doesn't mean that they haven't happened to other people all over the United States.
Innocent people who merely want to get from Point A to Point B in their own country.
As we have said so many times we're feeling metaphorically hoarse -- as well as afflicted with serious writer's cramp -- the TSA is an agency rife with criminals, from thieves to child-porn aficionados to rapists to drug-smugglers to (yes) muderers and spouse-abusers.
On top of all that, the agency itself is an unjustifiable use of tax dollars. It should be disbanded.
Furthermore, TSA Apologists, although you may have "breezed through" what is rightly described as, and proven by security experts worldwide to be, pure Security Theatre, those of you who are in possession of a modicum of conscience and a decent level of sympathy toward your fellow human beings should take a moment or two and read about at least some the agency's victims . Click the tab at the top of the TSA News page, where resides an ever-growing Master List of documented abuses and crimes.
Read it and realize that your tax dollars support an indefensible, ineffective, fascistic agency that violates your Constitutional rights and emphatically does not make us safe. Reinforced and locked cockpit doors; alert, non-compliant passengers; and good, solid police work on the ground -- long before a terrorist even gets near an airport -- are what protect us from that which is statistically speaking, an event so rare that one has a greater chance of being struck by lightning -- four times more likely, in fact-- than being involved in a terrorist attack.
Crossposted at TSA News Blog.(Photo: veggiefrog/Flickr Creative Commons)
Posted by Deborah Newell Tornello at 10:38 PM
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
There are actually people, in the blogosphere, on Facebook, and on Twitter, who argue--with a straight face--that the Constitution (specifically the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees to due process before execution) doesn't apply if acting in accordance with it and following its directives might be risky, dangerous, inconvenient, or politically inopportune.
The Constitution exists precisely for such circumstances, as opposed to just those times when upholding the cause of justice is a simple, straightforward, innoxious exercise. Period, full stop.
Yes, there is plenty of danger inherent in sending armed forces into another country to try to capture, and bring to justice, an American citizen suspected of crimes. And it is pretty well laid out in the Fifth Amendment that when the United States is at war with a country, American armed forces, military and navy, may--in accordance with the rule of law--do what is necessary to defend the nation.
And furthermore, who could argue that flying into Pakistan, under that country's radar and without its permission, and attempting a capture-or-kill of the leading and most-wanted terrorist of our time--Osama Bin Laden--was not fraught with risk and dangerous in the extreme?
Bin Laden was not even an American citizen, yet the children living with and around him were spared, as we were repeatedly reminded by the media in the days that followed. A cynic might call that politically opportune.
But the droning continues elsewhere, in the villages and homes and hideouts of terrorists less well-known and headline-worthy. Innocents live there too, but they aren't as lucky as the ones who slept under Bin Laden's roof.
To drone apologists and the various incarnations of "all's fair in love and war" they keep repeating, I say this: We are not at war with Yemen.
Nor are we at war with Pakistan.
In the case of targeting an American citizen, living abroad, for execution, why is it regarded as "whining", "puristic", or "naïve" to call out these crimes against humanity and the law itself for what they are? How can a thinking, moral person be fully satisfied that a suspect's right to due process isn't being abridged when he is summarily executed--blown to bits--without having been afforded the basic rights that are constitutionally guaranteed to citizens, whether here or abroad? Denied the rights to confront his accusers and make a case for his own defense even, or to simply stand in front of a judge and state how evil this country is--or indeed to say nothing whatsoever, but to at least be given the chance to do so instead of having that choice--to speak or not speak--made for him, and done so brutally, antiseptically, irreversibly, and with concurrent harm to others?
And even if one were thus satisfied (and I am emphatically not), one cannot deny that the United States has been sending missile-loaded drones into that which our government deems "enemy territory" but which, while very likely serving as home and refuge to suspected terrorists, happens to be home to countless innocents, too. Ordinary families, that is, with their children, their animals, their homes, their places of worship, and even their emergency personnel--those brave souls we call "first responders", the people who rush to the scene when an explosion occurs in order to offer aid. All killed, by either the first explosion, or by the followup bombing, as happens in the execrable "double-strike" attacks, which wipe out any stragglers and even neatly take care the first responders--the medical personnel--whose life's work it is to attempt to save lives, not extinguish them.
All these people are killed along with the terrorist suspects.
They are not merely the unintended damage occasioned by war, because, again, the United States is not at war with their country. They are not, Heaven help me, collateral damage. (What a hideous euphemism that is.)
They are rows upon rows of sooty-faced children: always motionless but for any still-flowing blood; often with bits of their skulls missing. Children who are no less innocent--and no less beloved by parents, family, and friends--than the white, middle-class victims of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut for whom President Obama, and countless others, publicly shed tears.
And I can't countenance any of this. Neither the wanton disregard for the rule of law, nor the wanton disregard for innocent human life--wherever it exists, and whatever its nationality, faith, or skin color.
Posted by Deborah Newell Tornello at 3:59 PM
Saturday, February 23, 2013
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, whom I generally admire--and who, to her endless credit, has pushed a lot of social issue envelopes on her show--recently occasioned and narrated a documentary called Hubris (you can watch all six parts here). Hubris was advanced as reporting on "how the Bush administration viewed the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as an opportunity to remove Saddam Hussein from power", and promoted as a thorough analysis of: the utterly false casus belli (the metal tubes, the mushroom cloud threat, etc.) for the American invasion of Iraq in 2003; the evidence presented to Congress (that would eventually be completely discredited); the use and abuse of then-Secretary of State Colin Powell by pushing him to make an under-informed and flawed case for war; and finally, the horrifically poor management of Iraq subsequent to the removal from power and execution of Saddam Hussein.
The same Saddam Hussein who, it must be noted (if not discussed too often, if ever, on MSNBC), was on the C.I.A. payroll since 1957 and to whose Ba`ath party the U.S. provided monetary and intelligence assistance--first in the coup of 1963, and again in that of 1968, about which David Morgan of Reuters wrote:
In 1968, Morris says, the CIA encouraged a palace revolt among Baath party elements led by long-time Saddam mentor Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, who would turn over the reins of power to his ambitious protégé in 1979. “It’s a regime that was unquestionably midwived by the United States, and the (CIA’s) involvement there was really primary,” Morris says.Thus would Hussein, in 1979 and with the blessing and backing of the United States, occupy Iraq's highest office. Come the 1990's, however, he was regarded as less and less useful for "America's national interests" (read: those of Big Oil).
All that said, you might conclude--correctly--that my opinion of Hubris is not a uniformly positive one. I felt a few extremely important concerns--the most important ones, in fact--were either skipped over during the writing process itself or, more likely, edited out of the narrative on the orders of higher-ups (but who can say?).
Anyway, in order to better express--and to augment--my own complaints, I'm going to share with you, dear readers, some luminous observations and criticisms of Hubris by two writers I deeply respect.
First: the following is a letter to Rachel Maddow and MSNBC by my friend Geoff Wheeler, a fellow Briton by birth as well as a retired merchant seaman. Geoff lives in Florida. (Published here with his permission.)
Subject: Letter to Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
Ms. Maddow: I was looking forward to your program ‘Hubris,’ which aired on MSNBC on Monday night, based on the book of the same name written by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, which I bought soon after it was published in 2006. I could ask why you waited so long, but I prefer to ask why you blew your chance to nail the Bush Gang in the very first minute by saying that Saddam kicked the U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq, which he never did. Your program was intended to indict Bush, yet right at the beginning you falsely indicted Saddam. In 1998 Richard Butler, head of the U.N. weapons inspectors, accused the Iraqis of obstructing their work, so Clinton said he would use air strikes, and out of concern for their safety Butler withdrew his team. I repeat: they withdrew voluntarily - Saddam did not kick them out.
So you blew that, and then compounded your error by not mentioning that it was Bush who ordered Hans Blix and his team out of Iraq just before he invaded in 2003. As the reporter you think you are, how could you miss that? I saw and heard the bum on TV say that the reason he invaded was because Saddam would not let Blix and his team in, when they had been in the country for more than two months and had found nothing! Which of course was not what Bush and Cheney wanted, which was a reason to invade Iraq, so it was they who kicked the inspectors out, killed 60-80,000 Iraqi civilians a few days later with ‘Shock & Awe,’ which grew to untold thousands of Iraqi dead in the ensuing eight years, not to mention a trillion American dollars down the drain and our reputation mud around the world. Bush stated exactly the opposite of what actually happened, and you let him get away with it!
You had a chance, Ms. Maddow, to educate the millions of viewers on Monday night who tuned in to your show, particularly those who lost loved ones in Iraq and continue to delude themselves that they died for this country and not for Iraq’s oil and the lying bastard (make that plural to include Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice and the rest of the gang) who sent them there. You will probably never get the chance again, leaving Bush-lovers to wallow in their selective ignorance of the facts, and for that you should be ashamed.
R. G. Wheeler
Second: Some notes on the documentary Hubris by Driftglass (he of the acuminous political lens that is his eponymously-titled blog), wittily live-tweeted for our edification (where witty = tear-evoking gallows humor):
Remember writing, thinking, speaking, marching, screaming against the coordinated, deafening roar of the Conservative hate machine and Beltway press?Well, for what it's worth, Driftglass, I do.
I remember landing and disembarking in Vancouver that winter evening in early 2003, only to see a number of customs personnel thereabouts openly weeping; concerned--horrified, actually--I asked them what was going on, and they replied that that the U.S. had just started bombing Iraq, something they had hoped against hope would not happen. (Oh, those idealistic peace-loving Canadians!) I remember coming home later that week and writing what would be the first of innumerable letters to Florida's representatives in Congress, as well as the White House itself, exhorting them to put a stop to this war built on obvious lies. I remember screaming and crying, too.
I remember aging a lot in the years thereafter. I remember the hiding of flag-draped coffins at Dover; the smearing of bereaved mothers who dared to speak out against Bush and Cheney; the disgusting and widespread incidences of torture that came to light, like Abu Ghraib; and the horror stories about innocent young men of middle-Eastern descent being swept up from the streets and, along with actual terrorism suspects, being shipped to the shameful prison in Guantánamo, Cuba, where they would all languish, uncharged and untried, choking on the putrid fumes of some evil, gray-area incarnation of the law, for years to come (indeed, a great many are still there, as yet uncharged and untried.)
Hubris? More like Malefaction, the magnitude of which, in terms of treasure squandered and American and Iraqi blood spilled, is unprecedented in modern history.
[* Like Driftglass, I highly recommend reading the incredibly prescient writing of the late, great Steve Gilliard; here's an especially good post from August 2003.]
Posted by Deborah Newell Tornello at 2:56 PM
Thursday, February 21, 2013
My colleague at TSA News, Lisa Simeone, reports that the TSA has "apologized" to Lucy Forcke and her parents. Lucy is the little girl in the wheelchair about whom I wrote here.
The TSA screeners on duty admitted they had specifically targeted the little girl in a wheelchair. Yet despite this admission, TSA management not only kept mum for three days, but the statement they have now offered goes like this:
“TSA regrets inaccurate guidance was provided to this family during screening and offers its apology.”
I don’t know about you, but that strikes me as pretty thin gruel.
Ah yes, The Book Of TSA Apologies.
Thinner, even, than The Directory of Honest Politicians, Simple Do-It-Yourself Computer Repairs, or Humble Business-School Graduates: A Field Guide.
With contents that are just as risibly disingenuous.
Posted by Deborah Newell Tornello at 11:11 AM