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    an idyllwild weather clam!

    Our gal, The Idyllwild Weather Clam thinks that it will rain again today.

    Tuesday 22 August 2017
    Currently at 4:54 AM 57°


    Up to the minute now-casting provided by: Idyllwild Weather Clam Mega-Skyview Ultra-Precision Doppler 160000 Super Computron Forecast in Full Spectrum HD

    Entries in punditry (71)

    Friday
    Aug182017

    Toddler Watch: Adult Supervision Without Adults Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a book
    Friends,

    The vice president of these here United States cut his overseas trip short to return to view the smoldering wreckage of the Executive branch of government. I'm sure he'll keep our democracy in his thoughts and prayers as he digs through the debris, past the confederate flags and Post-Its with Twitter passwords scrawled across them, as he looks for a way to salvage his career.

    After all, the albatross that is 45's presidency is going to be very heavy, covered in cheap bronzer and smothered in fried chicken grease.

    Your best pal,

    - bob

    Tuesday
    Aug152017

    Toddler Watch: Aw, Do I Have To? Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a book
    Friends,

    Yesterday, the president of these United States, days after the riot in Charlottesville, Virginia started by white nationalists, finally said that violence by white nationalists was bad.

    "Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are equal under the law. And we are equal under our Constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America."
    - The 45th President of the United States


    Would he have said this if his donors hadn't pressured him to revise his "all sides" statement? Probably not.

    Will he go to Charlottesville to meet with the victims and their families? Of course not.

    A normal American president would denounce Nazis (I can't believe I even have to say this) and meet with the victims right away. This, dear friends, is not normal.

    Your best pal,

    - bob

    UPDATE: Good gravy. He held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon and doubled down on the "both sides" argument. Then, as you do when you're the president, you equate George Washington with Robert E. Lee...

    "George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So, will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down—excuse me—are we going to take down—are we going to take down statues to George Washington?"

    Stunning.
    Monday
    Aug142017

    Toddler Watch: But Nobody Else Likes Me Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a book
    Friends,

    The person who was selected by the Republican Party to be their nominee for president of these United States has a problem. He has no friends. He's surrounded by suck-ups and toadies, but nobody actually likes this man. When you have as fragile an ego as Ivanka's dad, you do things to make people like you. Like what, you may ask.

    Like taking great pains not to offend Nazis.

    Over the weekend, aggrieved white nationalists, fascists, neo-Nazis, and real Nazis descended on Charlottesville, Virginia for a rally to protest taking down a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and to cause some trouble. They surrounded a black church during services, terrifying parishioners. They attempted home invasions in a predominately black area of town, and set up battle lines in a park dedicated to peace. Later on Saturday, one of the Nazis got in his Dodge Challenger and plowed into a crowd of anti-protesters, killing one and injuring 19.

    What did Melania's husband have to say about it? He condemned the violence on all sides, that's what. Nothing about disavowing Nazis or white nationalists or skinheads, and they were thrilled that they weren't called out. They've got a pal in the White House, they crowed.

    Yes, it would seem that they do. A man who needs all the friends he can get at this point.

    We fought a world war to get rid of Nazis, and now the president of these entire United States (and Guam. -ed) is playing footsie with a home-grown terror gang.

    This is not normal.

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Wednesday
    Aug092017

    Toddler Watch: Who's a Good Boy? Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a book
    Friends,

    The president of these United States receives a brief twice a day containing news stories covering all of the good things he's doing, how successful he is, and how his administration is doing great. Internally, staffers call it the "propaganda document." This is different from a clipping service, where you save media mentions for later use in your marketing. The brief, presented to the boss by toadies in the White House, is designed solely to stroke this nitwit's ego.

    This is also not normal.

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Tuesday
    Aug082017

    Toddler Watch: Vacation Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a book
    Friends,

    I've read a lot of commentary on Twitter about the hypocrisy of the 45th president of these United States going on a two-week vacation while he lambasted President Obama for doing the same. I get that the act is hypocritical and who doesn't enjoy making fun of this buffoon, but the people who criticize him for spending so much time away from the White House miss an important point...

    The more time he spends on the road, the less time he's spending doing evil stuff.

    Like what you ask? Like taking away the Obama-era protection against nursing homes forcing residents into private arbitration to resolve disputes for things like abuse or poor care. Like immigration officers rounding up parents while their kids are in school.

    So, you know, maybe it's not such a bad thing that Ivanka's dad is on holiday.

    This is not normal.

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Wednesday
    Jul262017

    Toddler Watch: Leggo My Ego Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a book
    Friends,

    A day ago, the 45th president of these United States has held a political rally at the Boy Scout Jamboree where he thanked the 12-year olds in the crowd for voting for him and goaded them into booing the 44th president. This is a startling breach of protocol not only for a sitting president, but also for a normal human being with a sense of ethics.

    Two days ago, the 45th president dedicated a new aircraft carrier—one named after the guy who pardoned 45's prototypical president, Richard Nixon—and as commander-in-chief, ordered the service men and women in attendance to support his political agenda. This stuff used to happen in tin pot, third world dictatorships. Until now.

    This is not normal.

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Wednesday
    Jun282017

    Toddler Watch: I’m Smart, I Know Things! Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a poster
    Friends,

    The 45th president of these United States, better known as Marla Maples’ ex-husband, is a mentally unstable sociopath with narcissistic tendencies. On that we can certainly agree. What we might disagree on is his healthcare policy expertise. Sometimes it’s pretty difficult for him to grasp. Sometimes it’s easy…

    A lovely centered picture of a tweet from a robot

    Again, this sort of thing doesn't happen in a functioning democracy, but it happened yesterday in the United States of America.

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Tuesday
    Jun132017

    Toddler Watch: Dear Leader Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a poster
    Friends,

    The 45th president of these United States, better known as Jared Kushner's father in-law, held the first meeting of his entire cabinet yesterday. This is a motley crew of GOP lifers, hangers-on, dopes, fire starters, and Mitch McConnell's wife (who is several of those things. -ed). While mostly a photo opportunity, a startling and brazenly un-American thing happened—one by one, they went around the room pledging their loyalty to the president.

    This doesn't happen in a functioning democracy, but it happened yesterday.

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Friday
    May262017

    Toddler Watch: Poor Impulse Control Edition

    Friends,

    The United States of America, a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, last year elected an orange buffoon as its leader. One of the reasons that old white people in this country voted for him, we're told, is that because they're anxious about their economic fortunes, they thought a successful businessman would be the best choice. This man would negotiate trade deals with other nations that tilt in favor of the United States. A master negotiator would also be able to bend foreign ministers to his will, the thinking goes, to ensure that America isn't stuck holding the nightstick as the "world's policeman."

    Here's the master negotiator in action at his first NATO summit in Brussels...


    Economically anxious white people in Montana also voted in a special election yesterday to elect a man who beat up a reporter the day before as their sole congressional representative. This is more dangerous.

    I strongly believe that NATO is a self-healing institution and can route around problems, like the grandstanding grifter who lists "45th President" when he takes out new loans with the Russians. However, he and the new GOP representative from Montana, and the people who support them, are showing that it's okay to rough people up to get what you want. That it's perfectly fine to beat on a member of the media who's pressing to get a question answered on the eve of an important election.

    Pay attention to these things, dear reader. This is how we lose a democracy.

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Wednesday
    May242017

    All Hail The Orb!

    Friends,

    Our president, a 70-year old orange toddler, has stayed up way past his bedtime during his first foreign trip as the leader of the free world. (since you put it that way, it's time to jump off a bridge. - ed At least wait for the midterms.) During this trip, he has said dumb things, coddled dictators, and has reshaped America's foreign policy to comport with the thing the last person he spoke to told him. In other words, the trip was going as expected, until he encountered The Orb.

    Was The Orb part of some elaborate stagecraft by the Saudi king to open the new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, or something more nefarious, as portrayed on Twitter? Maybe it was something else entirely...


    Your pal,

    - bob
    Tuesday
    May162017

    Toddler President Watch: Leaking State Secrets Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a poster
    Friends,

    A heavily-sourced story by the fine folks at The Washington Post (Cripes, are they going to save this nation's bacon again? every 45 years, like clockwork. -ed) reported that some septuagenarian toddler we call the 45th president shared highly classified information with the Russian ambassador. You remember the Russians, don't you? They're the ones who threw the last election toward said toddler through a disinformation campaign fueled by hackers, social media dupes, and willing stooges.

    Anyway, the toddler's nannies and enablers in the White House denied the story yesterday. This seems pretty normal. Why would you admit that you shared secrets that inherently compromise our sources with the enemies of our democracy?

    I don't know. Why don't you ask that toddler yourself, since he admitted sharing that information today.

    It's not a crime, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be removed from office for doing it. In fact, it helps reinforce the existing case for impeachment. Now all we need is a Congress that worries more about the country than their party.

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Friday
    Mar242017

    The American Experiment: Testing The Low Values Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a my driveway
    Friends,

    Whether it's stripping healthcare out of a healthcare bill because it's too generous, hunting bears while they're hibernating, or removing online privacy protections so ISPs can make a dollar, the majority party in this United States Congress has been busy. Why do they hate people, sleeping bear cubs and people? Because there is a dollar to be made, and your modern Republican Party is chock full of people who have no interest in you.

    I propose that while we bide our time until they can be voted out of power, we have a little fun at their donor's expense: keep as many browser windows open and search for as many different things as your computer will allow. Let's work together to make our browsing and search histories worthless!

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Sunday
    Mar052017

    A (very) Short Respite

    A lovely centered picture of a mountain, a building, and some cars
    Friends,

    I seem to be suffering lately from a fatigue brought on by an elderly orange man from Florida who has managed to destabilize this great country using little more than a Twitter account. He has surrounded himself by right-wing ideologues, dullards, kleptocrats, toadies and various hangers-on who are working with this elderly orange man to frighten old ladies and Australians while annoying Sweden and other people whose worldview hews towards facts and logic.

    Because I count myself among both the frightened and annoyed camps, I'm grateful to take a little break. This piney paradise, while not cut off from media, insists that inhabitants go outside and enjoy this gift.

    Until the new Secretary of the Interior sells off the forest to the highest bidder.

    Dammit. So much for my break.

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Friday
    Feb032017

    On The 25th Amendment

    A lovely centered picture of a nice lady doing nice things
    Friends,

    Sometimes you've just got to get rid of the president. Maybe you start hearings and he resigns and you get the mess pictured above, and sometimes you invoke the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because the president is unfit to serve. Either way, now would be a good time to do either of those things.

    And please remember to punch a Nazi. Thank you.

    Your very best pal in the whole wide world,

    - bob
    Friday
    May202016

    Once Upon A Time

    Friends,

    I've got a bone to pick with a copywriting trend I'm seeing lately. It's popping up in press releases, news articles, think pieces and op-eds with alarming frequency and I'm already tired of it.

    This trend is really a writing style and it goes like this...

     

    1. First paragraph has some background and lays out a premise.
    2. Second paragraph says how we used to do a thing.
    3. Third and subsequent paragraphs introduce the new thing and explain how great it is.

     

    It's lazy (and I've done it myself) and not new in itself. What's new is that articles are explicitly telling you what they're doing. Here's an example...

    Everyone likes to tell stories – it’s something we’ve done since we were kids. These days storytelling is an inherent part of our daily lives on social media, whether it’s sharing family photos or promoting a product, company, or cause.

    For a long time, the tools that let us creatively express ourselves and tell our stories were there for the select few who knew how to use them. But times have changed.  A high-definition camera is just a swipe away. You can carry an orchestra in your pocket and a digital publishing studio in your bag. We already know how to share with the world—but how do we actually stand out by telling our stories with impact?

    Today we’re announcing Adobe Spark – a new way to create powerful visual stories...

    Sure, Executive Vice Presidents write this way, but you shouldn't. You're better than that.

    Your best pal in the whole world,

    - bob

    Wednesday
    Jun172015

    In Defense Of Yesterday's Technology

     

    Friends,

    I've been a subscriber to a single wireless phone carrier for twelve years, which is absurd when you think about it. Who hasn't switched and flopped between carriers to get the best price or the best signal or to take advantage of a last gasp deal (Hello, T-Mobile!). I was finally able to take advantage of my, erm, loyalty yesterday and also a giant multinational corporation hoping to clear last year's phone model out of the channel to get an iPhone 6 for nothing down. Also, the payments on the new phone with the deal are lower than the old phone, so the monthly is lower. That's the financials, but what about the hardware?

    Brilliant. The camera is lovely, the processor is very fast and migration of data from the old to the new model was reasonably quick when directly connected to the desktop through iTunes. It's bigger than the older phone, but it still fits in a front jeans pocket.

    All that said, there are some problems. My laptop is from (late) 2007 and has been rejuvinated with a RAM and hybrid hard drive (part SSD, part spinning disks) upgrade, but still can't run the latest version of Mac OS X. That means that it has been excluded from the great cloudiverse. It can't share data with the new phone, iPad, or the desktop machine if I turn iCloud on. Apple makes an app (or application, if you will) that allows Windows machines to access iCloud storage, but you can't do that on old Macs. Perfectly functional Macs.

    Perfectly functional Intel-based machines are out. The Power PC machines, like the G4 Cube, Power Mac, Powerbook G3s and iBooks (before iBooks was an e-book purchasing app, or application, if you will) are still running, but out of luck in this ecosystem. Surely you don't want to toss these machines in the bin since they have a lot of useful life left doing the things that most people want to do, like browsing the web or checking email, so making these machines obsolete seems like a waste.

    There are lots of ways around this file sharing problem, like Dropbox, and local file sharing, but the many old machines on my network deserve something better. They've built the company, or at least the ethos of the company, so why not cut them a little slack?

    I know why, but that's the subject of the next piece.

    Your pal,

    - bob

     

    Monday
    Aug152011

    An Ad Agency Buys A Handheld Radio Manufacturer

     

    Friends,

    News came out this morning that Google is buying Motorola Mobility (the smartphone arm of Motorola) for twelve and a half billion dollars. That's a premium over how Motorola shares were valued last Friday and carries with it, I think, the overwhelming odor of desperation.

    Of course, everybody's making a happy announcement about the sale, like how the synergistic metrics between the longtime global partner teams are now forming a more tightly integrated new paradigm, or somesuch, but doesn't this mean that Google is now directly competing with LG, HTC, Samsung and all the other Android handset manufacturers? And won't those same highly valued partners continue to wonder how Google is sandbagging every time an Android release comes out? If this is a reaction to the Nortel patent grab of a couple weeks ago by Apple, Microsoft and others, it seems to me that it's a bit like putting out a camp fire by urinating on it without warning all the other campers to pull their marshmallows out first.

    - bob

    P.S. I use the first generation Motorola Droid for work and am as impressed by it as this guy.

    UPDATE: Super creepy and eerily similar plaudits for the marriage here. We welcome the news!

    Wednesday
    Jul272011

    Blink.

    I can't bear to look.
    Friends,

    Congress has decided to play a game of chicken with the finances of the United States. A game of high-speed mumbley peg with the nation's digits under their rusty jack knife. What's worse, (a worse thing, or are you extending the metaphor? -ed) is that the country's economy hasn't recovered enough to afford even a tetanus shot against the missteps of these ham-fisted apes. Before you get all fiscal on me, I'm not cutting the prevaricator in chief any slack on this either. He had the opportunity at the beginning of the year to ask for a clean debt increase bill and missed his chance. Now it's the '72 Munich Olympics in the capitol with our finances held at gunpoint, all due to some red meat types latching on to the idea that a debt limit increase is for future spending and not to pay for stuff we already bought.

    The Treasury Department has set a deadline for next Monday when we'll run out of money to write checks for government things, like checks for pensioners and tranquilizers to keep the space monsters we've locked up from eating us. We're in a pickle, folks.

    What will happen? Will the legislative and executive branches cut a last-minute deal? Will the president, in lieu of a deal, exert his executive privilege to extend the debt ceiling on his own? Will the "full faith and credit of the United States" be as suspect as a clean lab result from a professional bicycle racer? The answer to these questions, and whether we're all doomed, will be answered next Monday.

    In the meanwhile, fill up your gas tanks. Just saying.

    - bob
    Friday
    Jan282011

    Happy Friday of Anger!

    So sad. Maybe your millions of plundered dinars will make you feel better. Friends,

    As you may have heard, the people of Egypt have taken to the streets today after Friday prayers to pressure octogenarian despot Hosni Mubarak to finally step down. Will the military and police prevail and snuff out this uprising? Should Mubarak, the man who took over after the assassination of Anwar Sadat and soon after declared emergency rule be allowed to remain? What does the Egyptian government's ability to shut down almost 90% of internet access in that country say about our own government's hope to be able to do the same? Why is the Obama administration so worried about suggesting that police brutality aficionado Mubarak take a hike?

    Hosni Mubarak. Christ, what an asshole.

    Good job, Egyptian protesters! Don't let the Muslim Brotherhood co-opt your movement!

    - bob

    NOTE: Please listen to today's episode of The Bugle [MP3 link]. Andy and John take an Egyptian government overthrow victory lap that mustn't be missed.

    Monday
    Nov012010

    A Jaunty Election Guide! - or - Where I Appear Clever By Mentioning Alan Cranston

     

    Friends,

    This mid-term election cycle has been the most expensive, the nastiest in my memory, the most divisive. This is where The Best Political Team on this Blog™ come in. We've read the literature, followed the polls, listened to the people. You can't stay home for this one, folks. We're energized, so let's go!

    • Prop 19 - Legalizes marijuana under California but not Federal law. Permits local governments to regulate and tax commercial production, distribution, and sale of marijuana. Initiative statute: I was a big fan of this at first given the idea that the government should get out of the war on drugs business. After all, isn't pot pretty harmless? Well, yeah, as long as folks are sitting on their couch, eating Doritos. What makes this one crazy is that it appears to have been written by people who were baked out of their minds. The prohibition against "workplace discrimination" in particular means—at least to me—that an employer can't ask an employee if they're high or remove them from tasks until after an accident happens. This also seems to present a problem for businesses that operate a "drug-free" workplace and need that designation to win government contracts.
    • Prop 20 - Redistricting of Congressional Districts. Initiative Constitutional Amendment: This is the most important proposition you can vote for in my humble opinion. You good people stepped up and voted for Proposition 11 back in 2008 to establish a citizens' redistricting panel to take the every-decade state district boundary redrawing out of the hands of the legislature. No sweetheart deals, no more districts that look like snakes, wigs, mustaches, or other contortions to assure safe reelections. Proposition 20 adds congressional districts to the panel's plate, much to Federal representatives' chagrin. This makes me very happy, indeed. They hate that average people might decide what their districts look like and who's in them. No more safe districts for those jokers, and you have to love that.
    • And now we skip down the ballot because we aren't so sure what to think about 21 and 22...
    • Prop 23 - [hold on to your hat] Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law (AB 32) Requiring Major Sources of Emissions to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emmissions That Cause Global Warming, Until Unemployment Drops to 5.5 Percent or Less for Full Year. Initiative Statute: [whew!] I'm going to contradict myself later, but the importance of Proposition 23 can't be understated. Yes, it's been financed by oil companies from outside the state, but the idea remains sound. California alone can't solve global warming on its own which is quickly rebutted by the pundits who remind those who care that this state is a bellwether for environmental legislation. This is why Tesoro and Velero are the major sponsors, certainly. What the pundits forget is that this is going to cost energy consumers in this state plenty in order to implement this golden idea. If the green lobby needs a girlfriend, please look elsewhere. We can't afford your fancy lifestyle at the moment. The people who are putting up cash opposed to this measure are millionaires who might be able to afford the hit when they fill up their tanks, turn on the A/C or fire up their plasma teevees. The rest of us, especially when unemployment in the state is over 15 percent, can't. Oh! Did I mention that AB 32 gives the California Air Resources Board unlimited authority to write rules to achieve their goal of reversing the Industrial Revolution? The unelected board that has no interest in, well, you? They're completely mad and must be stopped. This is good place to start.
    • I have no idea what to think about Proposition 24. It repeals a deal worked out to get last year's budget passed, which is likely to be a bad idea, but maybe Proposition 25 may fix that...
    • Prop 25 - Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass Budget and Budget-Releated Legislation from Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes. Initiative Constitution Amendment: Guh. I hate amending the constitution and I'm worried about removing the high bar for adopting a budget. That said, something has to give to solve this constant budget bickering. Late budgets are costing us money and inflicting a little pain for the constant delay is appealing. No, it won't raise your taxes. Relax.
    • Proposition 26? It's written by polluters who think you'll be outraged that fees are like taxes and hope you'll be really scared. Cynical bullshit.
    • Prop 27 - Eliminates State Commission on Redistricting. Consolidates Authority for Redistricting With Elected Representatives. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute: Also known as the incumbent protection act. We don't need citizens redrawing districts, our pals in the assembly were doing a great job assuring us safe districts all along. Why change? Well, because the gerrymandered districts drawn up by their pals make sure that each district is anti-competitive. Please vote no..

    Well, that's it. I'm not going to endorse any statewide offices because they're all terrible in their own special ways. I'm particularly struggling with the Boxer v. Fiorina race. Barbara Boxer has been a terrible senator who has been reelected through luck and the hard work of the uncritical California Democratic machine. Carly caused me to lose the last job I loved and broke up a little family that I loved a few years ago. They're the choices. Stinko offered to give me twenty bucks to vote for Boxer, but that's the Chicago way, isn't it?

    Crap! What to do?

    - bob

    P.S. Oh yeah. Alan Cranston.

     

    UPDATE: Votesmart.org has the answer for my question. It's disturbing...

    Some sort of lovely picture about how a computer thinks how I think... The upside is that I get twenty bucks.