Bonnie Henry: Eat patriotically - your toaster is watching you

2013-06-30T00:00:00Z Bonnie Henry: Eat patriotically - your toaster is watching youBonnie Henry Special to The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

OK, so it's all out there. My emails, my phone calls, my ceaseless surfing on the Internet.

So what if some gray-faced man somewhere in the bowels of government knows that I've emailed both my Arizona senators, voicing my displeasure over their votes. Or that I once voted for a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars." Or that I've more than once called the Turkey Hotline on Thanksgiving.

But now they've gone too far. For not only are my online connections and cellphone numbers vulnerable to spying, so, it seems, are my humble kitchen appliances.

Or they soon could be, according to one-time-CIA Director David Petraeus. More than a year ago, Petraeus divulged at a summit held by the CIA's venture capitalist firm, In-Q-Tel, that the same technology that runs gaming consoles, apps and smart homes could be used to keep tabs on our day-to-day activities. Appliances, by the way, are included in this mix.

"Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers and energy harvesters - all connected to the next-generation Internet," mused Petraeus to several online news outlets.

This being America, we soon lost interest in what Mr. Petraeus had to say, until, of course, it was learned that he had "screwed up royally," as he would later put it, with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. No word on whether any "smart" appliances were involved.

Six months later, Petraeus' earlier words would come back to haunt us as we got the shocking news that it wasn't just Walmart that was tracking our every move. Thanks to recent comments about "spy appliances" on one of the comedy news outlets (sorry, I've forgotten which one) Americans were sorely reminded about this latest menace to privacy.

Tell me, do the terrorists win if Washington is kept in the dark about what lurks inside my refrigerator? What does it say about me if my fridge holds more beer and soda than milk? That I'm a meat eater? That I prefer arugula to iceberg? That my eggs may not come from cage-free chickens? That there's a too-soft tomato in the back of the crisper and a patch of spilled pickle juice in the door compartment?

Let's move on to the dishwasher, a veritable petri dish of intrigue. If I run it half-empty, will I get a "friendly reminder" notice from the secretary to the secretary to the assistant secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency? What if I stack the dishes in an inefficient manner or - horrors - fail to scrape and pre-rinse? And what about that detergent? Is it "eco-friendly"?

Next comes the oven and cooktop. Do I cook healthy or greasy? How often do I clean the oven? How often do I cook at all?

What about the toaster? Whole wheat or white? Am I considerate of those on a gluten-free diet? And what to do with Adkins dieters?

Last comes the coffee maker. How much do I make? Am I addicted to caffeine? What kind of coffee do I use? Is it shade-grown, allowing, according to www.caffeibis.com, "for a greater level of biodiversity for birds, butterflies, animals and plant life than does sun-technified coffee"?

For that matter, how often do I clean the coffee maker? Do I tend to purge, and if so, what does that say about me not only as a homemaker but as a patriot?

As we celebrate our freedoms this Fourth of July, may we redouble our efforts at vigilance, especially in the modern kitchen. Remember, my fellow Americans, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - and maybe our Frigidaires.

Bonnie Henry's column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at Bonniehenryaz@gmail.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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