Losing the testing wars

Happy Monday. No Marathon and no Sox. But it’s Patriots Day nonetheless.

Keiko Hiromi took some photos around the Boston area documenting life under lockdown.

Testing was an issue in February. It’s almost May and we’re still struggling. That may be an understatement. The Wall Street Journal says the effort is in disarray. This does not instill much confidence in our ability as a country to safely get back to normal anytime soon. Meanwhile, other countries are conducting widespread testing and tracking, allowing them to begin reopening. The president says this is a war but blames the states for the testing problems. States don’t fight wars, countries do.

For a little morning music at home, here are Lady Gaga, Lizzo and Taylor Swift for a series of serenades.

Spring is on hold while we wait just a bit longer for the swan boats.

And The Verge reviewed the new iPad keyboard. It’s good. Expensive and heavy, but good.

A doleful future

It’s Sunday. Relax and enjoy Dutch-American Friendship Day.

Math is hard.

The Globe business and tech writers try to piece together what an economic recovery would look like in the region. It’s not a pretty picture. And David J. Lynch, in the Washington Post, looks at the implications of the massive debt load we’re accumulating as a nation. Again, not pretty.

Zach Binney is thinking about when sports can get back to normal. And what that will look like.

With cities shut down, animals are roaming freely. Monkeys in New Delhi, dolphins in Venice, mountain goats in Wales. And in Boston? Make way for the turkeys.

The Times talks to experts to try to predict what the next year will look like. But another expert, Caitlin Rivers, warns that there’s just too much that we don’t know at this point to be able to make these types of predictions.

And one highlight of my summer is officially cancelled. New York’s Shakespeare in the Park won’t be happening this year. I always enjoy grabbing a coffee and waiting ‘on line’ for tickets on the morning of the show. There’s usually interesting conversation and Central Park is a nice place to spend a summer morning. I was looking forward to Richard II. Alas and alack.

Doctor, Doctor, give me the news

A snowy mid-April Saturday morning. Paul Revere rides tonight.

Louisa Thomas writes about what it’s like to miss Marathon Day in Boston.

Dr. Drew, Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil are in heavy rotation on TV. Are these really the guys we want informing us in the middle of a pandemic?

Maybe it’s because I’m old and hanging on to outdated expectations of how a president should behave but these tweets seem not only dangerous but borderline seditious to an old coot like me.

Here’s a follow-up on the food supply issues that I mentioned yesterday. It’s not just the meat processing plants that are having problems.

The Guardian has singled out Charlie Baker as one of a handful of US governors who has stepped up in the crisis. They note his empathy, pragmatism and persistence.

And now that the days have started blending into one another it may be a good time to watch Groundhog Day. Again.

Where’s the beef?

Friday. Next stop, the weekend. Happy birthday to Pete Shelley, Don Kirshner and Thornton Wilder.

Bill Forry was hoping that the Dorchester Day parade could be a cathartic get-back-to-normal celebration. Nope. Cancelled.

The food supply chain is more complicated than people think and as it becomes stressed the outcomes may not be what we expected. Take beef for example. In normal circumstances the best cuts go to restaurants but now they’re all mostly closed. So although consumers in supermarkets may still be buying beef, “all of a sudden 23 percent of the animal isn’t being bought,” an industry salesman told the Washington Post. And it’s the most lucrative 23 percent so there’s an economic impact. Add to this a smaller workforce and reduced capacity as workers in the large processing plants become infected, and that impact is magnified. Since this is happening across the food sector, expect to see changes coming in what’s available in your supermarket.

Where are we on a vaccine and immunity? It’s complicated but here’s a good overview.

From a story in the Times: It’s counterintuitive, but people with asthma are apparently not more likely to die from Covid-19. Data from New York show risk factors ranked in order: hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, dementia and atrial fibrillation. Despite being a respiratory condition, asthma is underrepresented. A broader review by The Lancet found the same thing. There are still many things we don’t know about this disease.

And if you’re curious about what the next versions of the iPhone will look like, here you go.

A slow roll

Thursday morning in Massachusetts. Today’s word of the day is caduceus.

Rachel Rollins is not just about keeping people out of jail, as some people think. Sometimes she’s a hardass.

Mayor Walsh answered questions from the chamber of commerce about when business can get back to normal. It won’t be anytime soon and definitely not May 1st. As far as sports go, our Dr. Fauci doesn’t rule out MLB play this summer, but it will be for TV only. No fans in the stadiums and teams quarantined in their hotels. And bad news for filmmakers: it appears that Cannes Film Festival won’t be happening at all this summer.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles is extending renewal deadlines for stickers, registrations and licenses due in May, for another 60 days. They had previously extended for March and April.

I had planned to be in Paris today, taking photos on the streets of Saint Germain and browsing in Shakespeare & Company. Instead I’m home in Massachusetts looking out the window and chasing squirrels away from the bird feeder. But I’m not the only one grounded. Rick Steves is also stuck at home in Washington state, passing the time by learning to cook and smoking weed.

And everyone agrees that this is a good time to do more exercise. But don’t go overboard. It could lower your immunity.

Signs of spring

Wednesday, April 15th. The anniversary of the Marathon Bombings.

The Trump administration has cut funding to the World Health Organization in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. I’m with Bill Gates on this one.

Winters in Russia were brutal in the 19th century and many of Chekhov’s stories were set in early spring, a time of hope. So along with what’s happening in the world today, this is a good time to read them. Parul Sehgal reviews a new collection of stories but doesn’t particularly like the translation. He recommends versions translated by Avrahm Yarmolinsky but I’ve always liked the Constance Garnett versions. Here’s her translation of one of my favorite Chekhov’s stories, The Student. It’s a five minute read, at most. If you like it, check out Easter Eve or the masterpiece, The Bishop. All free online.

Economists weighed in for The Globe on how the Massachusetts economy will be impacted by coronavirus (greatly) and what a recovery will look like (nobody knows). There. Saved you five minutes.

Trump’s name will be printed on the stimulus checks in this election year. Now that’s some good exposure. Almost as shameless as Bill Galvin’s census PSA’s.

And if you’re having trouble unlocking your iPhone while wearing a mask, you may have to retrain its facial recognition system. There’s a trick to it, but it’s not hard to do.

Leadership vacuum

It’s Tuesday, April 14th, the day, in 1912, that the Titanic hit an iceberg.

As a crisis communication tool, the daily press conferences have become completely superfluous and are now veering into the ridiculous.

States, including Massachusetts, are self organizing in the absence of a coherent plan from the federal government to reopen the country. The president said he is going to rely on his instincts when deciding when to restart the economy but based on recent performance I don’t think many governors are confident that that will turn out so well.

The jury is still out on post-infection immunity. Can you get Covid-19 twice? It’s unclear. Are antibody tests reliable? Not really, at least not yet.

911 operators and dispatchers are even more critical these days, working under trying conditions. Telecommunications Week is a good time to honor them.

And, for the many frustrated people trying to file for unemployment, old software may be the culprit. Many states systems are still based on COBOL, a mainframe computer language that Grace Hopper would have been comfortable using.

Peak projections

Another Monday. In 1970 on this date, Houston learned about a problem.

Add Dean Kamen to the list of tech moguls doing what the federal government apparently can’t.

Last week Governor Baker estimated that the peak in Massachusetts would be on April 20th and that the number of new cases on that day would be about 2500. Yesterday, April 12, the number of cases hit 2615. Either we’ve hit the peak early or there are going to be a lot more cases than we thought.

This year’s Apple product roadmap seems to be on track, albeit a few weeks later than normal.

Jonathan Evans, the former head of MI5, weighs in on the need for public trust before we introduce mass surveillance for contact tracing to manage the spread of coronavirus. And Genevieve Bell, writing in MIT Technology Review, thinks this could be a time to reinvent how “we collect and share personal data while protecting individual privacy.” But Ross Anderson, at the University of Cambridge, is a bit more skeptical of how any of this will work in the real world.

And I’m seeing a lot more people out walking these days. That’s a good thing. But if you’re not a big fan of exercise you could just take a pill.

Disfunction junction

Happy Easter. (How’s your keister?)

This is what Saturday Night Live is like now that everyday is Saturday.

The Times tackles Trump’s tardiness. It’s a well documented and damming account of missed opportunities and botched efforts. Imagine where we would be if Deborah Birx hadn’t come along.

Well known mathematician John Conway has died of Covid-19. Here’s his lecture on free will, the first in a series covering a wide range of subjects.

It looks like Boris Johnson is back at home and out of danger. He thanked health care workers for saving his life.

And, are you really a nudist if you’re wearing a mask?

Big tech in the sky

It’s Saturday. Sun is shining. RIP, J. Geils.

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, doesn’t want rich out-of-towners to take it personally, but please go away. Come back later, when all this is over.

Apple and Google are working together on technology to use our phones for contact tracing. It would be a massive personal surveillance program wrapped in technical tricks to ensure privacy. What could possibly go wrong? Security researcher Moxie Marlinspike looks under the hood.

Some are suggesting that covid-19 was appearing in the US as early as December. Not so, says the science. People were getting sick with something in December but whatever it was, it spread and subsided because of existing immunity in the population. If it was the coronavirus it would not have subsided because there is no existing immunity. It would have spread like wildfire and we would have had the peak in January, not April.

The MCAS is cancelled for this year. Graduation requirements will be waived for this year’s students.

And imagine what it would be like being stuck at home without the Internet. The 50 year-old network is holding up fine under massive demand these days. Thank the original designers, one of whom, Vint Cerf, is recovering from covid-19 himself.