Belt and suspenders

Another Monday. It’s a birthday for both G. Gordon Liddy and Abbie Hoffman.

Ireland has become an importer of potatoes, getting the majority of its supply from the UK. New Brexit restrictions may threaten that supply. But in today’s Ireland, potatoes are less about subsistence and more about tasty fries.

Moderna will apply for emergency use of its vaccine today, just behind Pfizer, who applied about a week ago. People in the highest risk categories could have their first shots before Christmas.

The Baltimore County school system went completely to remote learning. Now they’re completely shut down because of a ransomware attack.

The oldest houses in Washington DC were built in the 1700’s. But they weren’t built in Washington. Both originally came from Massachusetts (one from Waltham and the other from Ipswich.)

And 71 year old Manson cult member Leslie Van Houten’s parole request was denied by California Governor Gavin Newson, who reversed a board decision that would have freed her. So, no Dancing with the Stars for her, I guess.

Everything you know is wrong

Sunday. It’s the 30th anniversary of the start of the Belgian UFO wave.

First it was here, and now it’s gone. The mystery of the monolith continues.

Here are a few articles for Sunday morning on our vulnerability to misinformation. In the first, Scientific American explores the “New World Disorder.” The Guardian looks at how to spot logical holes in a conspiracy theory. And David Brooks channels Jonathan Rauch on Republican distrust of traditional sources of information.

It’s everything you wanted to know about the McRib sandwich, including how work at Natick Labs contributed to its success and how its availability rises and falls with the price of pork.

Matt Patricia is out. Fired, along with Lions general manager Bob Quinn, who hired him.

And you may want to stay away from World’s End in Hingham in early December (unless you’re outfitted in bright orange.)

Suspending disbelief

Saturday morning. Today’s word is capitulate.

Winter is still about three weeks away. After December 21st, which is the shortest day of the year, the days will begin to get longer. But between now and then we’ll lose another 19 minutes of sunlight.

This is a great opening paragraph, by Toluse Olorunnipa writing in the Washington Post.

President-elect Joe Biden, a state-college graduate who was once the poorest man in the U.S. Senate, is facing accusations of elitism from Republicans after defeating a billionaire incumbent with an Ivy League degree — a sign of how the politics of populism have been upended and redefined by President Trump.

Up is down. Down is up. Everyday is opposite day in this political environment.

Google seems to be slowly moving towards a subscription services model, and potentially away from advertising. We may look back on the last couple of decades as that weird time when stuff like email and search used to be free.

The Trump campaign paid $3 million for a partial recount in Milwaukee County and ended up losing votes. File under: Be careful what you ask for.

And scientists are proposing a neural network-based system that will produce “extreme summarization” of scientific papers. It’s called TLDR generation and it’s summarized in a 14 page paper.

Glass half full

It’s Black Friday. Sorry, no deals here today.

As the pandemic spreads, there has also been more ransomware attacks on US health care care by Russian hackers. So it probably wasn’t a great time to fire the head of the national Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency for the flimsiest of political reasons.

Maybe it’s the tryptophan talking, but things actually do seem to be looking up. Biden is already pissing people off – on the right and on the left – which is a sign that he’s finding his groove in the middle. Trump has agreed to leave the White House without us having to call security. Vaccines are coming. And there will be turkey sandwiches this weekend.

On the other hand, traffic back-ups are expected to make a comeback next year. (Hopefully not quite as bad as this one, though.)

HistoryHit TV promotes cultural and historic sites from around the world and they’ve also produced a photo contest featuring images of some sites. Here are this year’s winners. Some are overly stylized for my taste, but all are great images.

And charging phones (and watches and laptops…) overnight can be a chore, but also a requirement. It stinks when you forget and then and realize that your battery is at zero going into the next day. Cars are going to be an even worse version of this problem.

Frictionless charity

It’s Thanksgiving. Pass the gravy.

Pardon me? It started with a turkey and went downhill from there.

The Globe reports that Salvation Army bell ringers may not be out at the usual locations this year due to covid restrictions. But the big news is that if you do find one, they will now take donations via Apple Pay. No more, ‘I don’t carry cash’ excuses.

Do as I say, not as I do. When it comes to holiday travel this mayor sets a very bad example.

Is Matt Drudge still running the Drudge Report? Drudgeoligists want to know.

And Spencer Buelle, writing in Boston Magazine, is thankful for Boston’s Bawston-ness. You’re welcome.

Trickle down immunity

Today is Wednesday, which, for many people, is also a Friday.

This early, pre-Thanksgiving Christmas light business is definitely happening around where I live. Much more so than in other years. Folks seem to want to fast-forward through the rest of 2020.

How will a vaccine be distributed? The CDC is finalizing its guidance but generally it should go like this: First the 21 million health care workers and nursing homes residents will get it. Then 87 million essential workers and then the 53 million people over 65 and the 100 million people with health conditions. The good news is that even if you aren’t in one of these groups you’ll benefit from others getting it, so it’s a win/win.

These Soviet-era control rooms are mesmerizing. Analog technology at its peak.

Boston University‘s Young Democratic Socialists want free laundry for all students. Opponents warn that tuitions would have to be raised to make that happen.

And this mysterious slab of metal probably just fell off of a passing UFO. I wouldn’t be surprised by anything that happens this year.

Reading between the lines

Happy Tuesday. Happy National Espresso Day.

Here are some quick tips to help avoid being scammed while holiday shopping online.

Kevin Cullen opines about whether Marty Walsh will run for reelection. Of course he’ll run. But his options are still open.

Trump has teamed up with Randy Quaid in a Twitter love fest. Perfectly sane.

In the North End, a rising tide raises all bocce courts. Bruce Gellerman reports on how global warming impacted the redesign of Langone Park.

And it’s not too late to begin to build that awesome tasty pie. I’ll have mine with an espresso, thank you.

Belt and suspenders

Monday morning. On this day in 1994, IBM debuted the first smartphone.

Los Angles is having a bad year, crime-wise. 300 fatal shootings so far. The most since 2009.

And now there’s three. AstraZeneca and the team at Oxford have announced that their vaccine is up to 90% effective. Although slightly less effective than the Pfizer and Moderna versions, it tends to be easier to store and distribute. It’s amazing that this was all accomplished in less than a year. Go science!

It’s eerily quiet at the White House. It’s either a winding down or the calm before the storm.

Online security is often an act of faith in the companies that you entrust your information to. In this case that faith was misplaced. Along the same line, many banks are using computer code more than 20 years old that nobody on staff understands. They’re at the mercy of the high priests of COBOL.

And what’s old is new again. In this case, anti-maskers.

…Especially about the future

Sunday morning, The 22nd of November. Just 29 days left until winter begins.

What’s going on with bitcoin these days? The folks at Forbes say it’s going to hit and break through an all time high. Crypto is slowly gaining traction and reach as it becomes more secure and scaleable. Some of that is due to companies like Chainalysis, which will in turn prosper.

Anthony Fauci talks common sense to Elisabeth Rosenthal. He thinks we’ll be back to normal by this time next year thanks to the vaccines announced last week. Here’s what that twelve months might look like. It will be nice to get out of this year of uncertainty. But in the meantime, continue to wear your mask.

It’s been a tough year for police departments. And for victims of rising violence.

“No pictures! Silencio.” It’s true that a Japanese company bought the exclusive photo and video rights to the art in the Sistine Chapel. But don’t blame them for the surly security guards that won’t let you take a pictures. That deal never included tourist photos. And that exclusive deal expired years ago anyway. These days the Vatican just chooses to restrict picture taking, which is a shame.

And it’s no wonder that we’re all losing our grip on objective reality. It’s not just fake news, it’s fake everything!

Let the meter run

Good day, Saturday. The word of the day is grandiloquence.

If you have an Apple TV you already know how bad the remote is. It’s a disaster. Now cable companies, who are also notorious for bad remotes, are offering a slightly better one for the Apple TV. Or, you can do as I did, and just get one of these.

How much of a surcharge should the state tack onto Uber and Lift fares and who should bear the brunt, the rider or the ride-share service? Flat fee or structured? And really, is this the right time to be adding surcharges to a struggling industry? Adam Vaccaro reports that the Legislature and the Governor are all over the map on these questions.

Bus maintenance costs at the MBTA are more than double the national average. So before cutting service, the T should look hard at cutting operating costs. Charles Chieppo and Jim Stergios make the argument in Commonwealth Magazine.

Bill de Blasio’s reviews as mayor of New York are, at best, mixed. With contenders lining up to replace him, the Times notes that, “Several candidates have worked in the de Blasio administration, yet the mayor’s residual unpopularity has given rise to an unusual trend: Most mayoral hopefuls are not necessarily running to the left or right of him, but just far, far away.” Smart.

And this commercial will make you feel GREAT! Also, a little disturbed. (From Turnpike Films.)