Thursday, May 27, 2010

Family Research Council: "Pray that Gay Rapists Don't Infiltrate Khaki Ass" (perhaps NSFW)

From the Rude Pundit
As a loyal member of the Super-Duper Prayer Team, yesterday, the Rude Pundit received his weekly Prayer Target list from the evangelical Family Research Council (motto: "Here a queer, there a queer, everywhere a queer queer"). The Rude Pundit joined the Super-Duper Prayer Team a few years ago under a secret nom de rude, which means that he gets emails o' faith that tell him what causes need some hot oral action on his knees. Each Wednesday, a letter arrives that says, more or less, "Hey, Jesus didn't shave his balls for nothing. Get busy."

And so he dutifully opened up the email and, lo and behold, what do you think our praylatio orders were about? It's a motherfuckin' emergency, man: "FRC President Tony Perkins believes the President's effort to infiltrate our military services with practicing homosexuals through the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT) is a 'Gettysburg' moment in the war for the soul of our nation, and that it is time for God's people to 'pull out all the stops.'" Yes, preventing gay men and women from serving their country in the military is the equivalent of 50,000 casualties in a Civil War battle. And, by the way, which side of the Civil War is the FRC saying it's on? The side preventing people from having rights? Or the side that was fighting to keep the Union together and end slavery?

(On another note, one of the Rude Pundit's favorite Civil War stories: In 1864, Massachusetts soldiers encamped in Virginia decided to have a formal ball. Sixty of the males, including the drummer boys, dressed in gowns and were the "women" for the evening. One soldier wrote, "Some of the them looked good enough to lay with, and I guess some of them did get laid with. I know I slept with mine.")

This is important, goddamnit: "We need prayer for God to show us just what is being said in secret government counsel chambers and to give us creative ideas to stop these evil schemes." Perkins apparently went into some kind of psychological collapse over the threat to repeal DADT for a bill that says, if the Pentagon gives the thumbs-up, the Navy won't know what to do with all the seamen: "In his prayer time yesterday morning, Tony wept for our nation. He saw in his mind's eye the oil now spewing from the Gulf of Mexico and polluting the gulf coast and saw it as a picture of the sexual immorality now polluting our land."

As if to demonstrate this immorality in the hottest way possible, the possible future is described as intensely homoerotic: "The sexual immorality that has oozed in our culture for decades with government consent and support has been bad, but under the legislation now being offered, it will become 'an unstoppable gusher and the damage will be catastrophic.' Please pray fervently." Dude, the Rude Pundit prayed all over his jeans reading that.

The problem, see, according to an FRC "researcher" who "analyzed" (with an emphasis on "anal") data about same sex assaults in the military, is that gay people are just too into raping straights. You put a straight guy in front of a gay one and a raping's gonna happen. His study proves it. Now, one could argue that the paranoia and self-loathing that enforced closeting has engendered in gay soldiers has led to such incidents. One might also argue that the number of assaults, while serious in and of itself, is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the assaults on women by male soldiers. One might argue that so many of the incidents involve drunk people that maybe alcoholism is the real problem. One might even argue that if you have a few million people in a group, there's gonna be some assholes who like cock. And assholes.

But then you'd be thinking with your logical brain and not just outright hating you some homosexuals. 'Cause we gotta pray, motherfuckers. We got our orders: "May God stir his people to 'take out all the stops!' May they aggressively pray and take action to stop this morally, spiritually, and in every other way senseless measure. May God open the blinded eyes in both Houses of Congress in sufficient numbers to stop this measure in its tracks. May God enlist believers who will pray day and night until the efforts to overturn DADT and to pass ENDA, have both been defeated!" No sleep, you Jesus-hating pussies. Day and night.

One of the bible passages we're supposed to read to accompany our prayer is Jeremiah 5:21-29, which is God getting all pissy and wanting people to tremble before him or whatever. Of course, if you go one verse more, you get this: "A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?" To put that another way, all those people, like, say, Tony Perkins, telling you what to say and what the invisible sky wizard think? Their own God thinks they're full of shit and that you're a loser if you believe them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Self Abuse

I didn't realize that I was suicidal. But apparently I'm not very good at it. That, or my subconscious hates me, but only in a passive-aggressive way.

We got all kinds of work done this weekend. We got the pool opened (even though it's too cold to swim yet), we got the garden started, and we kicked off the biggest part of Spring Cleaning (a roughly bi-annual event at our house - hey, no need to go overboard, right? Spring will come back around if we miss one...).

Meanwhile, I skinned three knuckles, scraped up my left knee, whacked my head on a cabinet, and got a good-sized scrape on my toe where I stubbed it on one of the triceratops femurs that our horse-sized canines like to gnaw on.

Then, on Saturday evening, I was walking out of the kitchen, and as I walked past the watering trough, I didn't realize that one of the dogs, and I'm suspecting Tasha here, had decided that she needed to wash her muzzle rather than drink. And in the course of dunking her head and violently shaking it side-to-side, she'd left a coating of water on everything for ten feet in every direction.

Anybody want to guess at the frictional coefficient of bare feet on wet tile? I hit the ground pretty hard, scraping the other knee and my elbow. Oh, and spilling the glass of water I was carrying, which seemed redundant somehow.

(Technically, it was slightly under the elbow, a few inches down. Exactly in the same place that you rest your arm when sitting in a chair or leaning on a counter. And rotated slightly inside the arm, so it's right where your shirt rubs against it when you move your arm. Little things you don't really notice until something like this comes up.)

And then, Monday morning, I see my bus pulling up while I'm still fifty feet away and at an angle to the rear of the bus. So there's limited chance that he'd see me. I go sprinting to catch it. And as I rounded the back of the bus, my foot flexed just a little more so I could go up on the curve. The barest amount more than it had before.

Remember how I had a scrape on one toe? Something you don't really notice until your shoe bends just right, sending a small jolt of pain through your foot? Just enough that you can't recover quite right when your other foot comes down on a rock?

Yeah, I went sprawling. Sprained my ankle, bruised my hip, scraped the heel of my hand, and caused some kind of soft tissue injury on my shoulder so it's good and stiff and uncomfortable when I move it. Of course, that's not a problem - how often do you move your right shoulder, huh?

On the bright side, I managed to not rip my pants. That would have made the morning complete. (Kind of surprising, considering the fist-size purple bruise I have there now.)

So essentially, my superego, in collusion with my dogs, is trying to commit the Death of a Thousand Cuts on me. Except that I have a very imaginative superego, and it likes to throw in a little blunt force trauma, just to keep things exciting.

So this morning, I got to work, and the first thing I managed to do is give myself a paper cut. Definitely can't blame that on the dogs.

My subconscious and I are going to have to have a long talk.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Letters to the Senator

Senator Bingaman,

(and Senator Udall, and, even though he isn't mine, Representative Grayson - hey, I'm a completist...)

So, I'm curious. How much do you know about the newest Social Security commission? Now admittedly, parts of this are from Huffington Post, and I haven't been entirely satisfied that they aren't trying to be a left-wing Fox News (which, God knows, is the last thing we need - we're getting enough lies from the Republicans).

However, we seem to have a group of white, middle-aged millionaires, meeting in secret to decide the fate of Social Security, Medicare, and all the other social programs the GOP hates.

They're the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and they seem to be trying to stay under the radar, possibly until the midterms are over. But some of their members are fascinating. For example, the only member who knows about defense spending, for example, is David M. Cote, CEO of Honeywell (you know, the major defense contractor).

And Peter G. Peterson, billionaire and former Nixon administration Secretary of Commerce (and former Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers) has already sponsored an event attended by both co-chairs and two other members of the commission, where they ignored a lot of the real problems we're facing, and tried to get all banker-friendly.

(Peterson, by the way, has been on a crusade to destroy Social Security for decades now.)

Just thought you should consider looking into this. I'd appreciate it.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Adventures in cooking

So, the Trophy Wife was out the other night, doing Engelbert Humperdinck's opera "Hansel & Gretel" for the schoolkids of Gallup, New Mexico. (That's the Engelbert Humperdinck who was writing fairy tale opera's for children in the 1890's, not the one who was singing crap pop music for the soulless masses in the 1960's.) She's been doing this with Opera Unlimited for just shy of five years now.

So there I was, my son and I, left to my own devices for dinner. Not the first time - I am a passable cook; although not nearly as good as the Trophy Wife, I can follow a recipe with the best of them. ("Recipe" being a moderately important word here, though. I don't have a lot of instincts for cooking, so if I don't have a list of ingredients and instructions, it might be best to have the pizza place on speed dial.)

But we really had no idea what we were going to eat, and Christopher went rummaging in the pantry. The first thing he turned up was a can of Spam that dated back to when Luke headed off to the Marines. (For some inexplicable reason, both my sons like Spam.)

The second thing he turned up was a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. And he put these two cans on the counter and grunted in his pidgin Neanderthal "Make food." Then he wandered off to finish digging the pit-trap for the mastadon.

I looked at the two cans for a minute, as they sat there on the counter, mocking me. And I decided to go with a really simple application. I cut the Spam into five slices, put them in a skillet to sear slightly on each side, and dumped the chili's in on top of them.

The first thing that hit me was the smell - it was like barbecue sauce, only good. (Sorry, I'm not a big BBQ sauce fan - that doesn't mean I'm a bad person, does it?) After I flipped the Spam slices, I poured some red wine in on top, and let it cook it down a little. Then I just served it over rice.

Then Christopher and I sat there, watching the fourth Die Hard movie (easily the best since the first one), and reveled in our pain.

See, my wife isn't exactly a fan of spicy food (and when I say "not a big fan of," what I mean is "kind of a wimp about"), so I've cut way back on my capsaicin consumption over the last two decades or so.

In case you aren't aware, chipotles are just the smoked version of jalapeno peppers. So not the hottest thing out there, but once you've worked your way through four or five of them, the built-up heat gets pretty intense. Take a drink, the heat just goes downstream, without lessening at the top at all.

The thing about capsaicin is that it clings to everything. I once picked up a bottle of some seriously kick-ass hot sauce when I was helping a guy move, and I didn't know that he'd spilled some on the outside. An hour later, after washing my hands once, I rubbed my eye where some dust had gotten in. I was reasonably certain that I was going to go blind (possibly by plucking my eyeball out to stop the burning).

The smokiness of the chipotles was mostly overpowered by the adobo sauce, but the heat? Not even close. It was awesome; we both ended up with a chili high that had us laughing at each other for no good reason.

(It's amazing, as puritanical as some people are, that chili's haven't been banned yet.)

Capsaicin has a number of uses other than tormenting the cowardly gourmands. It's one of the main chemicals in one of the varieties of mace (specifically, the one referred to as "pepper-spray," by some weird coincidence), and a number of pain ointments use it as a key ingredient (for example, a product called Capzasin).

Oh, and one final note. I'd forgotten that, when you severely overindulge on chili peppers, you need to understand that everything goes somewhere. And capsaicin doesn't always break down as readily as you'd expect in the digestive system.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the next day, you'll be sitting on the toilet, and it will feel like somebody coated their finger in Capzasin and shoved it up your butt. Just a thought.

But then, last night, I took my first crack at making soba noodles. And that is a truly weird experience.

There's all kinds of good reasons to eat soba noodles - they're made from buckwheat instead of processed white flour, and, you know, the less processing of your food the better, right? Plus, they're high in fiber, which is something everybody needs on a regular basis (so to speak). And in one study, it was shown that buckwheat lowered the serum glucose levels in rats by 12 to 19 per cent. And with growing numbers of diabetic Americans, that might just be something to pay attention to.

Now, the package instructions were pretty much written by a crazy man. Basically, you bring the water to a rolling boil, toss in the noodles, and keep the heat cranked. When the water tries to boil over, pour in a cup of cold water, and when it tries to boil over again, kill the heat. Rinse.

And boil over it did. (Or actually, it tried to - I was just too fast for it.) I suspect it's the variety of starch that buckwheat throws off, but it's pretty damned similar to boiling a pot of detergent. It foams up like a mad dog chewing a can of shaving cream.

It's the insane way to deal with soba. People who cook their soba that way will probably also serve it by reaching into the boiling water and pulling out handfuls of noodly goodness.

Fortunately, a little research found me a food blog by an ex-pat Japanese woman living in Switzerland (hey, welcome to the 21st Century), who shows us a more reasonable way to cook soba. (Possibly, in fact, too controlled, approaching anal-retentive; I mean, come on! "hold the noodles over the water and sprinkle them in strand by strand?" Really?)

Basically, boil the water (or broth - whatever), toss in the noodles, stir... hell, it's her story, let's let her tell it.
Bring the water back up to a gentle boil, then lower the heat so that the water is just simmering. (This differs from the ‘rolling boil’ that’s recommended for pasta.) If the water threatens to boil over, add about 1/2 cup of cold water (but if you lower the heat to the gentle simmer, and have a big enough pot, this shouldn’t be necessary). Cook for about 7 to 8 minutes, or following the package directions (for thinner noodles 5 to 6 minutes may be enough. Test by eating a strand - it should be cooked through, not al dente, but not mushy either).

At this point, you may want to reserve some of the cooking water. This is called sobayu (そば湯), literally ‘hot soba water’, and many people like to add it to the remaining soba dipping sauce at the end of the meal to drink like soup!

Drain the noodles into a colander. Immediately return them to the pot and fill the pot with cold water. When you’re draining the hot water you may notice that it smells quite ‘floury’. This is what you want to get totally rid of.

If the noodles threaten to flood out over the pot, put the colander on the pot to hold the noodles down. Leave the water running for a while over the noodles.

Once the water and the noodle are cool, start to ‘wash’ the noodles. Take handfuls and gently swish and rub them in the water. Your goal is to wash off any trace of starchiness or gumminess on the noodles. When you’re done the water should run clear.
She goes on to talk about presentation and stuff, but basically, it's noodles. You know the drill, right? Then just rinse them when you're done. They'll be fine.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stormy Weather

Lena Horne died on Sunday, May 9, 2010. The circumstances of her death were withheld by the family, but she was, after all, 94 years old.

I'm not old enough to really remember her at her peak - for me, she was always a presence on TV variety shows and a legendary name in a type of music I've only lately come to appreciate.

While the nascent civil rights movement was struggling to gain any kind of foothold, she had the advantage of being "traditionally" beautiful (that is, attractive to white people). As she put it:
"I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept. I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked."
Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born in Brooklyn on June 30, 1917. She dropped out of school at age 14, and began working as a singer and dancer at New York's legendary Cotton Club two years later.

She quickly became a featured singer, and after a series of nightclub and touring jobs (and one failed marriage), she signed on with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Her debut role with MGM was Panama Hattie (1942).

Despite the fact that the star of this unmemorable picture was Red Skelton, Ms Horne continued to have a career afterwards. (Oddly, so did Mr. Skelton.)

It wasn't until the next year, on loan to 20th Century Fox, that she would sing what became one of her signature numbers, the title song to the all-black musical Stormy Weather. Her voice, at the age of 20, had yet to gain the power or the depth she would have later in life, but the song still became a hit.

Because of the prevailing racism of the day, her film appearances most often had to be "stand-alone" scenes that could be cut out when the movie played in the South. In fact, for much of the early part of her career she couldn't even stay in the hotels where she was performing, because they wouldn't accept blacks.

She spoke briefly of her relationship with Count Basie in a 1982 tribute to the jazz legend.

She was an activist and civil rights pioneer for most of her life.
In 1941, she sang at Cafe Society and worked with Paul Robeson. During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform "for segregated audiences or for groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen" according to her Kennedy Center biography. She was at the March on Washington and spoke and performed on behalf of the NAACP, SNCC and the National Council of Negro Women. She also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass antilynching laws.
It was, in fact, her friendship with Paul Robeson, himself an activist (he was openly pro-Soviet and fought to end the oppression of the colonized people of Africa, Asia and the Atlantic and Pacific nations, among many other politically unpopular causes) that got Ms. Horne blacklisted during the Fifties. But by then she'd given up movie work and was a nightclub performer once again, so it really didn't affect her all that much. She only had two movie roles after that, Death of a Gunfighter (1969), and, sadly, The Wiz (1978).

Although she never seemed to be truly comfortable when surrounded by a crowd of Muppets, she still appeared on Sesame Street multiple times throughout the 70s.

Lena Horne fought her entire life for acceptance and for the rights of others. Like so few others, she qualifies as an American legend.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Death of the Conservative Meme

So, while I've been engaged in a pitched battle with ABQ Ride, it's been a hard month to be a Republican, hasn't it?

For those of you who've been living in a cave (and come to think of it, bin Laden probably heard about this one anyway), a man named Faisal Shahzad loaded a car with a badly-made bomb and a chest full of fertilizer, parked it in Times Square, and went to Kennedy Airport, where he paid cash for a ticket to Dubai. But despite this brilliant escape plan, his plane was stopped on the runway just before it took off and he was arrested.

Shahzad drove a Nissan Pathfinder (which he'd planned to use to destroy the Disney Store - and really, who among us hasn't?) which he'd purchased for $1,300 (again, in cash), and had filed to VIN number off of the dashboard. But, because he was a cartoon villain, he apparently didn't realize that it was also stamped on the engine. The police tracked down the original owner through the VIN, which led them to Shahzad.

I really don't know if I'm relieved or unhappy that he used a Nissan. I mean, come on, Faisal, I know we're the children of the Great Satan, but you could at least buy American, right?

The bomb could have produced a significant fireball, even though the fertilizer wasn't the volatile ammonium nitrate used by so many terrorists. But that's OK, because a dirty bomb is a dirty bomb, right? Radioactive waste spread over a 5-mile area, versus flaming poo in Times Square. No real difference.

Shahzad was a naturalized American citizen from Pakistan, who had recently gone back on a visit. He apparently received his explosives training on that visit (although, if this bomb was his final exam, I think he failed).

In fact, there is some evidence that Faisal received both training and funding from the Pakistani Taliban, which, in the larger sense, makes me wonder why we haven't wiped these idiots out already. They're apparently led by Wile E. Coyote, so why hasn't reality manifested itself as a giant anvil in midair, and crushed these morons?

Now, despite all of the conservatives screaming incoherently about the dangers of illegal immigration, has anybody noticed that Shahzad, was a legal immigrant? Like all of the 9/11 terrorists, and pretty much every other terrorist responsible for pretty much every terrorist attack in pretty much the entire history of America. (You know, except for all the ones who were actually born in America - we can't forget them, can we?)

There's another opinion that the GOP likes to throw into the debate, most publically articulated by Dick Cheney (a man who hasn't made a good, decent or moral decision in his entire life).
"We made a decision after 9/11 that I think was crucial. We said, 'This is a war - it's not a law enforcement problem,' " Mr. Cheney said. "Once you go into a wartime situation and it's a strategic threat, then you use all of your assets to go after the enemy ... you use your intelligence resources, your military resources, your financial resources, everything you can in order to shut down that terrorist threat against you.

"When you go back to the law enforcement mode, which is what I sense they're doing, closing Guantanamo and so forth, they are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that's required, and that concept of military threat that's essential if you're going to successfully defend the nation against further attacks."
Shahzad was captured thanks entirely to police work. I would like to be the one to mention this to the aptly-named Dick, but he can't come out of his coffin during daylight.

Related to that sneering attitude toward our law enforcement community, there's the GOP's entirely unchristian, anti-American opinion that torture is good and civil rights are bad. The most recent example, in fact, involved the Shahzad case, where Grampy McCain was asked whether this failure of a terrorist should be Mirandized.
"Obviously that would be a serious mistake... at least until we find out as much information we have... Don't give this guy his Miranda rights until we find out what it's all about."
Well, guess what? Just like the Underwear Bomber before him, a fully-mirandized Shahzad is spilling his guts. Without one single cattle-prod, without watering any boards.

("Oh, come on," I can hear you saying. "Unamerican? Unchristian?" Yes. You want to take the civil rights away from American citizens? Because that's what Shahzad was. On top of which, foreigners still have rights under the Constitution; the courts have said that over and over. And while you're mulling that over, consider that Christ was supposed to have been tortured and then nailed to a tree; would He support you treating another human like that?)

Of course, our friends in the GOP also support other ideas, but very few of them are good. (Anybody remember Terri Schiavo?) For example, "Deregulation of industry is a good idea! If you don't tie the hands of the Free Market, they'll regulate themselves, and puppies and kittens will drop into the laps of all the good boys and girls!"

I believe we all saw what happened when Wall Street was deregulated. (And yes, this all stems back to legislation put out by Bill Clinton. But it was only under Bush the Younger that the full flower of GOP policy could take place.)

And, of course, since it was deregulation that allowed British Petroleum to omit a simple acoustic trigger which would have prevented the devastation to the Gulf Coast following the recent explosion on the oil rig, we have yet another example of the world-wide consequences of allowing the mythical "free market" to police themselves.

And speaking of the Gulf of Mexico, does anybody remember the phrase "Drill, baby, drill"? Yeah, that worked out well, didn't it?

So, really, has the GOP gotten anything right? Let's be real. What we have here is the Universe getting together to show people what an idiot Sarah Palin really is.

But are any of the teabaggers listening?