The money go round

Today is Friday. And it’s a nice one. The word of the day is exhort.

The national debt has exceeded the gross domestic product. The sky hasn’t fallen. But it’s getting very heavy.

Pam Kocher is the head of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau and she has some thoughts about the proposal to expand the role of the City Council in the budget process. I agree with her, it’s not a good idea.

Tom Warren explains how a typo in the OpenStreetMap database created a two hundred story building in Australia that pilots now need to avoid.

Usually, when people suggest sweeping initiatives, the devil ends up being in the details. But in the case of mandating flu shots for students this fall, it’s a pretty simple deal. Just get a shot before going back to school. That’s all.

And at least until October, Hawaii is only for Hawaiians. Kākou, but just not for you.

Strange bedfellows

Thursday, August 20th, 2020. Darwin published his theory on this date in 1858.

No mopeds for a while on Block Island.

A Republican PAC is supporting a candidate in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts Governor’s Council. Bruce Mohl follows the money to the usual suspects.

A new poll in Scotland is showing unprecedented support for independence. How it will play out in practice is unclear at this point but, as one person put it, the writing is on the wall for Scotland and Great Britain.

Megan McArdle watched the videos from Portland and saw anti-police activists calling the police, and protester ‘security’ brutalizing a man in their custody. It’s a “complicated relationship,” she concludes.

BU students are wondering exactly what happens if they test positive for Covid-19. Here’s the low down.

And to reduce the population of buzzing bloodsuckers, Florida officials are releasing 750 million genetically engineered mosquitoes. File under: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’.

Can’t get there from here

Good mid-week Wednesday. It’s World Photography Day. Get out and shoot.

Rhode Island. Where politics meets with calamari.

Transit experts weigh in on how to leverage changes brought by the coronavirus into sustained solutions by rethinking how we get around.

Cycling is resurgent in many cities, especially New York. And, according to the Times, so are bike thefts. “Leave a bike locked on the street and you might as well consider it a charitable donation — thefts of bikes worth $1,000 or more were up 65 percent in June, and 64 percent in the first two weeks of July, from the same time periods in 2019.” Many apartment buildings and co-ops are setting up bike rooms for secure storage.

Speaking of storing valuable things, important data should not be stored in only one place. That’s the beauty of digital assets. Have as many copies as you like and spread them around. It’s especially true for photographs. This Canon cloud data loss is a good reason to take this advice seriously.

And if this post-coronavirus airline seat design is going to be the new normal, I’ll be pining for the the horrible seats we have now. My back hurts just looking at the new ones.

Unintended consequences

This is a Tuesday. Happy birthday to Martin Mull and Dennis Leary.

Two feet is one too many when it comes to surveyors.

The police chiefs most intent on reform tend to gravitate to progressive cities. But lately those cities have turned on their police departments. As a result, some of the best, rising-star chiefs are being pushed out or seeing their budgets cut, undermining reform efforts. Very frustrating.

In the wrong place at the wrong time: How a news photographer, whose job is to construct a visual narrative, ended up being caught up in someone else’s.

In the wake of the coronavirus, MBTA finances are a mess. Despite federal emergency funding, service cuts are on the table. Massachusetts casinos, on the other hand, are keeping the lights on by managing costs with less revenue coming in.

Is Trump going to pardon the Tiger King today? Stay tuned.

Test, test, test, test

It’s Monday. There are only 136 more days left in this inauspicious year.

Ed Harding asked Rachael Rollins if she will be running for mayor of Boston in 2022? You’ll have to watch to hear her answer.

A plan that could bring the coronavirus outbreak in the US to heal in three weeks even as we wait for a vaccine? It’s an interesting approach, and doable. Test everyone, everyday. In any case, we can’t do worse than we’re doing now. Eventually there will be a vaccine. The fastest vaccine developed so far was for mumps, and that took 4 years. But there’s lots of optimism around having a Covid-19 vaccine within 6 to eight months. And there’s good reason to believe that it will be effective.

Nikkei has released market share figures for Japanese camera manufacturers. It looks like Sony’s entry into the mirrorless market in the last decade has hurt Nikon much more than it has Canon.

Lots of things are in short supply these days. Bikes, kayaks, camping gear, even trampolines. Just-in-time-inventory supply chains have not served us well during the pandemic. Now, as kids are heading back to remote classrooms, we’re running out of laptops and Chromebooks. Even where funds are available, supply may not be.

And forget P=NP. The real interesting question is whether MIP*=RE. And in quantum computing, apparently it does.

The rise and fall

Sunday. A day of rest. Today’s word is inveigh. So I will.

How about Taylor Swift for president -rather than Kayne.

Nothing lasts forever. Anthropologist Wade Davis looks at the sunsetting of US prestige in the world. Not because of the virus but because our reaction to it revealed a national psychosis. By way of example, check out All Gas No Brakes, which is about as good a portrait of America these days as anything else I’ve seen. Entertaining and depressing.

Winter is coming. But first we have to get through the fall.

Bill Galvin is finally being called out on his taxpayer-funded self-promotion scam.

And if you’re into bourbon, this brand got a rating of 99 out of 100. “[J]udges applauded its “intense nose of bitter chocolate,” riding a buttery smooth mouthfeel, with touches of peach and pepper in the mid-palate.” All I know is that it sounds way above my pay grade.

Preserving disorder

Saturday. Welcome to the weekend.

Covid Testing should be free and easy whether you have symptoms or not. And the results need to be available within 24 hours. But what do I know?

The NYPD’s largest police union has endorsed Trump. That probably won’t move the needle much in these times when police unions are not very well regarded, except by the police and their families. Also the president and Joe Biden were asked a series of questions by the IACP. Trump’s answers are here. Biden’s here. (Trump’s responses to #9 must have been lost in the mail.)

I doubt that the MA State Police did anything intentionally to lose the emails in this case, but on a technical level it looks bad. I don’t know what systems they use or switched from but archiving email is not rocket science.

It’s the incredible shrinking Lowell-based Boston Herald. Dan Kennedy tweets about what he’s ascertained in his investigation into the mystery of where the paper’s newsroom is located. (Via UH.)

And imagine Iberian ham, not from Spain, but from Georgia, fed not acorns, but pecans, peanuts and sunflower seeds. What is this world coming to?

Reasons to be cheerful, part 3

Friday on my mind. Social Security was signed into law on this day in 1935.

Robert P. Connolly remembers John Hume.

There is a bit of an uptick in cases here in Massachusetts, with concern around the opening of schools. But an expert from the Harvard Global Health Institute is optimistic that, if we play our cards right, we’ll make it through the winter without a major problem. And the Director at Scripps Research says there’s light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel. So that’s all good.

Thomas Friedman, who has some familiarity with the Middle East, explains why the Israel/UAE agreement is such a big deal and why Trump deserves credit for it. (But let’s not go overboard.)

Is a hot dog a substantial meal? Adam Gaffin reports on yesterday’s Zoom meeting by the Boston Licensing Board.

If you have an old Hasselblad body or lens laying around you can bring it into the digital age thanks to this new modular approach.

And if work is all Zoom for you these days, you can sneak in a day off by making a pre-recorded loop of yourself nodding and smiling through all those long boring meetings, just like this guy did.

The show must go on

Thursday. The word of the day is Catch-22.

Huh? A mask mandate in reverse? Forget it Jake, it’s Florida.

We still expect new movies and TV shows despite the pandemic – or maybe especially because of it, since we’ll be stuck inside come the fall. Some shows filming now will look different. No crowd scenes, for example. Others will rely on overseas locations since the US is still off limits for large productions. It will be interesting to see if these changes stick.

At BU, it’s a slant-rhyme slogan for a half-assed year.

PDFs do have a place for sharing completed documents. But when used for sharing content they fall flat, especially in the mobile world. Kevin Truong writes that that happens way too often.

And in the Alps, they have a problem: Killer cows. It certainly is a strange year.