Sunday, June 30, 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Celebrating Capitol Chill

Ben & Jerry's Capitol Chill promo placard tilting slightly to the right [photo: GK Broeckel]

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream  released "Capitol Chill" at an urban farm in NOMA, DC which is a mere 10 blocks from the Rotunda of the Capitol.  Capitol Chill is part of Ben and Jerry's City Churned campaign in which a local flavor is formulated  by incorporating random information (such as joggers on each side of the Mall or counting red or blue ties) as well as voting by the public to concoct the creamery creation. It kind of sounds like the crazy way that legislation is developed nowadays so it should fit right in to the District of Calamity (sic).

Washington's Capitol Chill flavor is chocolate ice cream (perfect for the so called "Chocolate City"") with divine chocolate corn-flake clusters, marshmallows and caramel swirls along with a Route 11 sweet potato chip.

Considering the weather on the afternoon of the City Churned roll out, Sweddy Balls might have been more apropos for the subtropical heat and humidity instead of Capitol Chill.  But it was best to experience the Capitol Chill flavor immediately as it was just a one day churn. But Ben and Jerry's Public Relations "Grand Poobah" Sean Greenwood pointed out that  the Elton John flavor was supposed to be a one day roll out yet it found its way unto the regular roster.

The Capitol Chill City Churned ice cream capped off a service project at the Walker Jones Farm.  This was the former site of Walker Jones Elementary School in Northwest DC, but for the last few years, it has served as an urban farm for the community.

Vine growing at Walker Jones Farm, NOMA, Washington, DC [photo: GK Broeckel]

The Ben and Jerry's inspired volunteers put in a few hours labor working the fields and harvesting onions. Sean Greenwood marveled at having a working farm so close to Capitol Hill.  The farm may not be agrarian for long, as it is part of the 80 acre $750 million NC1 public-private development project which has been developing since 2008.

One of the crops were trash can potatoes, which re-purposed a 50 gallon trash can into being a planter, which is a smart methodology for an urban farmer without lots of space but who wants freshly grown tubers.

Trash Can Potatoes at Walker Jones Farm, NOMA, Washington, DC [photo: GK Broeckel]
This Capitol Chill project by Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream harkens back to the company founders credo that business can be a source of progressive change.

While political animals may pursue different public policy goals, this Ben and Jerry's Capitol Chill project should be celebrated for minding the company mission to make great products, deliver solid profitability while working towards social change and improving the environment.

Jacinto Benavente on Marriage

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chewing on NSA Graham Crackers

When it came out that the NSA had been sweeping up the phone records of all of Verizon Wireless' customers meta data, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made an interesting statement on FNC's Fox and Friends.

Graham is sure that the Government is just trying to track terrorists, so he doesn't mind if the Government monitors his meta-data on a general warrant, as he is not talking with terrorists.

Freedomworks wants to bolster Americans Constitutional rights, so they put up a challenge to Lindsey's open invitation to the NSA.

Obviously, the senior Senator from South Carolina does not care about the 4th Amendment, which was inspired by British General Warrants during colonial times.  Graham's belief that NSA was doing discreet checks through FISA courts, was mistaken. 

Of course the likelihood of Senator Graham having transparency with his e-mail password is about as likely as Graham running unopposed in the Republican Senatorial Primary in 2014. Until them, we can feast on other Lindsey Graham crackers, like questioning if bloggers have 1st Amendment rights

Amusing Obama Eschatology

When Obama died, 
George Washington met him at the Pearly Gates. 
He slapped him across the face and yelled, 
"How dare you try to destroy the Nation I helped conceive?"

Patrick Henry approached, punched him in the nose and shouted, 
"You wanted to end our liberties but you failed."

James Madison followed, kicked him hard and said, 
"This is why I allowed our government to provide for the common defense!"

Thomas Jefferson was next, beat Obama with a long cane and snarled, 
"It was evil men like you who inspired me to write the Declaration of Independence."

The beatings and thrashings continued as George Mason, James Monroe and 66 other early Americans unleashed their anger on the radical, socialist, leader.

As Obama lay bleeding and in pain, an Angel appeared. Obama wept and said, 
"This is not what you promised me."

The Angel replied, "I told you there would be 72 VIRGINIANS waiting for you in Heaven. 
What did you think I said? You really need to listen when someone is trying to tell you something!"

Some Fanfare for the Fortnight for Freedom 2013

NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan
Today is the start of the second Fortnight for Freedom as urged by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops.  It is a period of  prayer, fasting, education and action to preserve the fundamental natural right that is enshrined in the Bill of Rights–the Freedom of Religion.  This effort was started last year by USCCB President New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan

Appreciating the First Amendment is particularly poignant as there are so many challenges to religious liberty and the freedom of conscience, such as the HHS Qualified Health Plan Mandate (a.k.a. the Contraception, Sterilization and Abortifacient rider), the exclusion of non-compliant adoption organizations who will not service same-sex couples, states which have approved , states co-ercing traditional marriage believers to conform to same-sex so called marriage, the military labeling Catholics and Evangelicals as extremist groups for upholding their moral beliefs, military chaplains being forced out of service if they did not tow the new Politically Correct line on homosexuality.

When President Obama marked Religious Freedom Day in 2013, he framed religious liberty as the “freedom to worship as we choose.”  That might have been acceptable public policy shorthand, but such a charitable assessment is not borne out by the actions of the Obama Administration.   This is especially exemplified in the HHS contraception mandate.


Secular society has been championing a concept that America was founded on a separation of church and state and that religion was ancillary to education of the times.  While it is true that there is not a state religion, history shows the profound motivation of our founders to pursue religious liberty.   The Fortnight for Freedom should remind us of our proud history of religious liberty and point out how state incursions are strangling this fundamental freedom.  Part of this education about religious liberty should include how sweeping state regulation of secular values will end vital social services in adoption, immigration, adoption, feeding the destitute and health care by religious groups which are serious about their core beliefs.


H.L. Mencken on Love

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pelosi Makes a Mockery of the Magisterium on Abortion

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th)

In the wake of the capital convictions of notorious Philadelphia late term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, House Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th) was asked a hard moral question.  A journalist who was not content to just do public relations for the former Speaker asked her what was the moral difference between the abortions that Dr. Kermit Gosnell could legally do at 23 weeks and an medical abortion performed at 28 weeks or even a live birth.

House Democrat Leader Pelosi refused to directly answer the question.  First, she snarkily noted that the journalist savored asking the hard question.  She later refused to answer the inquiry as the question had an agenda.  But in the alluvia of excuses in between, Nancy Pelosi managed to use her Catholic faith as a shield to defend why she supports what she euphemistically refers to a “woman’s right to make decisions about her reproductive health.”   

Nancy Pelosi contends that she would not answer the question since “[A]s a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don't think it should have anything to do with politics." 

Father Frank Pavone published an open letter to Ms. Pelosi on behalf of the Priests for Life noting that her June 13th answer makes a mockery of the Catholic faith and is reprehensible.  Pavone elaborated: 

Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life

You speak here of Catholic faith as if it is supposed to hide us from reality instead of lead us to face reality, as if it is supposed to confuse basic moral truths instead of clarify them, and as if it is supposed to help us escape the hard moral questions of life rather than help us confront them.
Whatever Catholic faith you claim to respect and practice, it is not the faith that the Catholic Church teaches. And I speak for countless Catholics when I say that it's time for you to stop speaking as if it were.
Abortion is not sacred ground; it is sacrilegious ground. To imagine God giving the slightest approval to an act that dismembers a child he created is offensive to both faith and reason.

Last year, when Rep. Pelosi pontificated that the entire Catholic Church was not against the HHS Mandate, just 43 Catholic organizations, and that these Bishops had not spoken ex cathedra, there were calls for Pelosi to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Ex-communication is not a punishment per se, but is a protection of a person’s immortal soul from unworthily receiving the Body and Blood of Christ and the unity of faith.

But as Pelosi has persisted in invoking the Catholic thing to justify policy positions on abortions which are so counter to the Magisterium that is creates scandal among the faithful, it might be time for San Francisco Archbishop  Salvatore Cordileone to invoke Canon 915, which denies the Eucharist to someone who obstinately persists in grave sin.  

If Pelosi was a person of good character, she would either align her abortion positions with the Church when executing her office or follow the Priests for Life’s suggestion to be honest enough to renounce her Catholicism.   

 What is more likely to occur is emulating the example of Episcopalian Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori who keeps the pageantry of high church while eviscerating the underlying ideals by applying self-serving human secularist faith.

Ali Ben Abi Taleb on Character

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Meet the New Friends of US-- Are You Syrian?

Al Jazeera reported in late December 2012 that the Assad  forces used chemical weapons.  But only last week, the Obama Administration confirmed that the Syrian regime crossed the "red line" and used chemical weapons, which justified the US arming the rebel Syrian forces.   Aside from the fact that the Syrian rebels are now dominated by Al-Qaeda affiliated forces,  who are Mr. Obama's new bosom buddies?

The Blaze shared some video shot which showed a Free Syrian Army  rebel commander disembowling an enemy troop and then eating the human heart and liver on video.  The only thing this is missing is fava beans and Chianti.

It is amazing to think that former KGB agent Russian President Vladimir Putin could have the moral high ground lecturing America for aligning itself with Syrian cannibals.

While the Bashar Assad regime is a despicable dictatorship, it did not slaughter Christians or pride itself on feasting on the entrails of enemies.  Had the United States become involved in the Syrian crisis two years ago, maybe our influence might have influenced democratic forces.  Instead, now when we go in to arm rebels with an attitude of the "Responsibility to Protect", we arm Al Qaeda affiliates who lionize cannibal commanders.  

Are you Syrian?  Really?  It might be time to push the reset button on the Obama Foreign Policy reset button.  Foggy Bottom is the location of the State Department -- this should not be a description of American foreign policy.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

William Wilberforce on Truth

Some Patching Over the Disconnect of Cell Phone Savings

After becoming fed up for a high cell phone bill, I researched strategies when issuing a Cellular Call for Change in saving on mobile telephony bills.  Granted that people have different needs and one plan does not fit all.  But while the notion of economizing on cellular charges has an abstract appeal, many are called but few choose to mitigate mobile communication costs. 

It was clear that one impediment from consumers heeding a call for cellular change was the US cycle of receiving subsidized handsets in exchange for an iron clad two year contract.  Someone was interested in upgrading their i-Phone 4S to an i-Phone 5.  The cellular customer would likely stay with Verizon because of their excellent coverage but she is pressed to upgrade as there is only a limited period that the “new every two” is applicable. 

Sometimes, the desire for a shiny new techno-toy overrides everything.  A nephew got tired of using his feature phone to text so he wanted to splurge on a Google Nexus 4 from T-Mobile.  But in order to satisfy this techno sweet tooth for Android Jelly Bean meant walking away from a grandfathered $25 per month pre-paid plan through Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile.  After the sugar rush from Jelly Bean, he may be surprised that not only did his monthly bill double, but he also is responsible for taxes and fees which often add an additional 20%.

Another friend who would be  inclined to economize on cellular costs feels that switching cellular providers is impossible because of the family plan.  Nights and Weekend and mobile-to-mobile minutes cut down on metered usage.  And big buckets of shared data has a mystique.  Sprint prides itself on truly unlimited data.   But how many cell phone users consistently stream Titanic on a 4" screen?  It might well be cheaper to get separate plans with an MVNO but it pays to check your usage yourself first before switching.

There is a strange bias in the cellular industry about prepaid plans, which is epitomized in a mock Apple i-phone ad.  Sprint’s Customer Retention Represenatives employed a  strange selling point when trying to break up with them as they denigrated Sprint’s own MVNOs of Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile as being “just a prepaid plan” was supposed to be a selling point, when those MVNOs could cut my bill in half.   In response to this built up consumer bias, some prepaid cellular providers like Cricket Mobile have migrated away from branding their handsets so that others do not look scornfully at their consumers.

As I was migrating to Virgin Mobile , my beloved wife hesitated because of her love of a sliding keyboard smart-phone.  Some MVNOs like Boost Mobile and Ting (both running off of the Sprint network) allow for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) but  that “white list” can be short list as new phones are excluded. Alas, sliding keyboard smartphones have gone out of vogue so she will either have to adjust or lovingly cradle her handset for the foreseeable future.

Aside from overcoming the unwarranted bias against prepaid plans, stifling the urge to get new subsidized phones in exchange for a two year contract and feeling that a consumer NEEDS to have unlimited minutes, the wise cell phone shopper should discern what they need based upon experience and inclinations.  



Albert Einstein on Life

Albert Einstein

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jacques Cousteau on Character

Jacques Cousteau

 Nota Bene-- Jacques Cousteau was one of the innovators who brought the Aqualung to the world. However, this invention may not have been the inspiration for Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull for their progressive rock concept album Aqualung (1971).

Monday, June 10, 2013

Great Communicators Speechless?

On the eve of the launch of his new novel The Eye of Moloch (the follow-up to The Overton Window), Glenn Beck has lost his voice.  But that does not mean that Glenn Beck lost his ability to communicate and to move with his words.

It is particularly laudable that Glenn Beck used his physical challenge as an opportunity for introspection and acting upon what he perceives is of great value nowadays. 

The weak vocal cords are most likely a temporary ailment, which is a great relief to the radio and television personality. 

 But Glenn Beck's tenacity to get the good word out serves as a reminder of how great communicators will overcome adversity to have their voices heard.  

NPR talker Diane Rehm kept a loyal audience despite her spasmodic dysphonia giving her a what could be described as a rickety voice. 

It is amazing how Rush Limbaugh conducts his widely popular conservative noontime talk show with cochlear implants which make electronic sounds (like television or telephone voices) nearly impossible to decipher.  

And Roger Ebert refused to be taken off the air after complications from cancer of the jaw took away his voice and his chin. 

Personally, I'm hoping the Beck is back in good vocal form for his Sirius/XM in-studio interview in the District of Calamity (sic).   As Beck's silent BlazeTV monologue  reminded us of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's words, "Not to speech is to speak. Not to act is to act." 

NSA--Can You Hear Me Now? Not Good.

With the news of the National Security Administration (NSA) procuring metadata records of Verizon customers, there has been some rethinking of the classic cellular commercial.

It seems that we now know who the Verizon guy was checking in with--"The Big Guy" as the Teleprompter of the United States calls POTUS.

What the public can deduce from the NSA/Verizon scandal is that the Boston Bombers, Tamerlin and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were not Verizon Wireless customers.

h/t: Jerry Holbert

Booker T. Washington on Unity

Booker T Washington

Friday, June 7, 2013

Appreciating Apple Attitudes

Apple engenders an almost fanatical level of loyalty from its consumers.   ATT solidified its market position as a strong second in the US cell phone market by being the exclusive of the iPhone for years when it first came out.  But now, nearly every cellular carrier, including MVNOs like Virgin Mobile and Ting can offer their customers the iPhone without the iron clad two year contract, albeit without a handset subsidy. 

Admittedly, I have never owned an Apple product.  Not because I am a technological Luddite, but because I refuse to pay the stupid tax.

Since Apple is a vertically integrated company, meaning that they control the design and manufacturing of phones, the marketing of the handsets as well as vet any software on their devices, everything goes through Cupertino. So one pays a premium for an Apple device, the software tends to be more expensive (because it is programmed in house or needs to be customized for Apple).  Nearly all computer peripherals needed come from Cupertino.  Apple wants to care for its own products (with so called geniuses) with exclusive (and more costly) insurance and care programs.  In addition, they wanted to corner the market on media, by forcing media purchases through I-Tunes which used to lock it with DRM.  Now it just makes it extremely inconvenient to take it out of i-Tunes.  

Indubitably, Apple produces or popularizes innovative products. The GUI interface was iconic (sic) in inspiring other O/S's (such as Windows). Apple may not have invented the i-Pod, but it became widespread through their product.  The i-Phone spread like wildfire amongst tech types because it was a stylish smartphone.  The SIRI interface took consumers closer to having a cyber personal assistant. But other companies have caught up and offer more economical choices with more real world flexibility than Apple offers (like replacing batteries, adding SD memory, accessing internet sites, not being forced to  buy into i-Tunes, etc..). 

It is an interesting phenomenon that those in the Apple cult not only look down upon those who refuse to join the Apple cult but they also savagely turn on Apple enthusiasts who do not have the latest and "greatest" products.

N.B.- This is a satirical advertisement
And woe be people who those who do not buy into the Book of Jobs. 

While  the parody video is a reductio ad absurdum, it typifies the mindset of many in the Apple cult, who can not appreciate that what works for them may not be alright for others.  This device devotion to the i-Phone despite better alternatives was satirized in certain scatalogical satirical videos.



Lily Tomlin on Success