Flash in the pan

A bright Sunday morning. The last day of the first month of the new year.

This meme went around in the fall when there were long lines at testing sites. It was funny because it was true and now it is true.

Michael Santoli says that the social-media-driven market activity from last week was a blip. It won’t persist and certainly won’t impact the larger stock market. Those sound like famous last words. Morgan Housel sees GameStop as the anti-Sears. Sebastian Mallaby defends the establishment. Politicians are on their soapboxes and the regulators will be coming. Just like they did for onions.

Aaron Dale and Emily Norton believe that a career as a wastewater operator is the way to go. Young man, I have one word for you: sewage.

There are too many satellites now and new ones are being launched all the time. I’m exited about the Starlink array but it’s also part of the problem. The UN is in charge of maintaining order up there, so there’s that.

And Geoff Edges talks to the other Davies brother of Kinks fame. What ever happened to that little green amp?

Human on the loop

Saturday. Freezing outside. Today’s word is retrocede.

Terrence Doyle alerts us that a new Bahn Mi shop is opening in Boston in the little spot on Washington Street where the New Saigon sandwich shop used to be.

Artificial Intelligence is the next frontier in war. The big ethical question is whether we should allow non-human technology to make lethal decisions on the battlefield. Experts say it’s not a question of if, but when. Humans are just not fast enough to handle the wars of the future. “If we slow the AI to human speed …we’re going to lose.”

A couple of years ago a woman bought her eight-year-old son a present of 10 shares of GameStop. It cost her $60 bucks. He just cashed them in for over $3 grand.

A tale of two kinds of politician: One waves her hands and says we must do this and we must do that. The others develop strategies to actually do some of those things.

And Sony has released a new high-end camera, the Alpha 1. Remember that time when Homer Simpson designed a car

Out of the blue

It’s a chilly Friday and the birthday of the great Anton Chekhov.

Wall Street is rolling out new rules in the wake of the GameStop kerfuffle. Matt Taibbi also weighs in.

Willie Gross usually does things big. His retirement announcement came as a surprise and seemed uncharacteristically subdued. Nobody wants to be a lame duck so the timing, coinciding with the end of the Walsh administration, does make sense in the world of Boston politics. I’ve known Willie for many years he’s always been a man of integrity and generosity. I wish him well in his retirement.

Remember D.B. Cooper? He was the hijacker who jumped out of an airliner with a parachute and $200,000 never to be heard from again. The guy many thought was the most likely suspect just died.

What’s the difference between physics and politics? When a physicist loses a bet, even one over something as complex as the black hole information paradox, and maybe something they have staked their entire career on, they quickly pay up when presented with the evidence that they were wrong. People in politics renege and stick to their original talking points even in the face of indisputable evidence. I’m guessing nobody ever confused Harlan Hill with Stephen Hawking.

And it’s not exactly the flying car we were promised, but I’ll take it.

Market psychology

A Thursday in late January. It’s the 35th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

Joan Vennochi seems to have some issues with Charlie Baker. She’s right about one thing. Baker, a Republican, understands Democratic voters in Massachusetts way better than most Democratic politicians do.

Watch out, Reddit. William Galvin has the whole GameStop thing on his radar. Is it stock manipulation? Maybe. But it’s not wildly unlike what happens in financial markets and on CNBC everyday. We think that the price of any given stock is governed by market forces like profitability and growth trajectory. But more often than not it just comes down to a group of people deciding something has value. Herd mentality. In the case of GameStop it’s just a different herd.

If you ever have an expensive camera stolen, you can use the metadata from an old photo to see who is using it now. Very clever.

Preliminary results from a randomized, controlled trial showed no benefits to using Hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19. In some cases it made things worse. Oklahoma is just now figuring this out.

And the photo accompanying a Globe story on shark attacks was pretty graphic for my morning coffee. They definitely needed a bigger boat.

Cinematic endeavors

Today is Wednesday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Budweiser has announced that it is forgoing advertising for the Superbowl and donating the money it would have spent to help fund covid vaccination efforts, an advertisement itself, but a virtuous one.

For me, 2020 was mostly about catching up on TV shows. Since watching David Ehrlich’s brilliantly edited short video showcasing the 25 best movies of last year, I now have a lot of movies to catch up on. (And, yes, I got the ‘Directed by Robert Zemeckis‘ reference.)

As the coronavirus variant from the UK is spreading throughout Europe, people in the Netherlands are upset about new lockdowns and curfews. The otherwise boring, civilized and polite populace is boiling over into riots. Crazy.

Historian Jessica Boyall helps us get to know the Nantucket whalers (not the high school football team) through the records and art that they left behind.

And Larry DiCara has forgotten more about Boston politics than most of us ever knew. Here’s wishing him a speedy recovery.

Data desert

Tuesday. It’s a birthday for Douglas McArthur, Angela Davis and Wayne Gretzky.

Twitter has put a pillow over Mike Lindell’s head.

With some exceptions, larger police departments in Massachusetts do a pretty good job with data collection. The courts, corrections and prosecutors – not so much. Shira Schoenberg explores the morass of incompatible and non-existent systems in the criminal justice system.

Acting, schmacting. The Mayor is the Mayor. The Boston city charter gives plenty of wiggle room for any decisions that Kim Janey might need to make.

Conventional wisdom was that more money wouldn’t buy more happiness, at least if you had an income of about $75k or so. A new study says that’s BS. Even more money brings even more happiness. In fact, with enough money your happiness level could be out of this world.

And Pizza Hut is branching out. After receiving requests from their customers they are now offering Detroit-style pizza. That checks out. Only people who like not-pizza pizza would request such a thing.

Jumping the turnstile

Today is Monday, Opposite Day.

It’s not exactly The Villages but I guess it’s the same basic idea. Who doesn’t love a parade on Opposite Day.

One of the big reasons that Uber and Lyft took off is because they were low friction. No cash, no special cards to carry. No long-term commitment. You use it when you need it and you know what it costs. Compare that to the MBTA, where you have to get a Charlie Card, put some arbitrary amount of money on it, even for a single ride, and then worry about the balance for the next ride. So it’s welcome news that the MBTA is at least in the very early stages of switching over to a contactless payment system. Just like in London and Chicago, two efficient systems I’m familiar with. And New York, where the payment system upgrade is also well underway. Mass transit should be cheap and easy to use – and pay for. This is a step in the right direction.

Superbowl teams have been warned to stay away from Tampa. One team might have a problem with that.

Some say that Elon Musk’s Starlink system is going to be a game changer. Others (especially in the Telecom sector) say it’s just hype. I don’t care either way. As long as it’s sustainable it will be another choice for getting connected, especially in remote settings.

And if you mix this hot sauce with mayo, you can make yourself a “thermonuclear bologna sandwich.” It looks like the guy that killed Bin Laden is trying to kill the rest of us.

Getting there

It’s Sunday morning. Today’s word is insouciance.

Tax season will start late this year. But it still ends on April 15th.

Lucas Matney considers the near-future for augmented reality. He says there are only a few minor problems that need to be overcome before it catches on: 1 – the hardware isn’t ready, 2 – the platforms aren’t ready, 3 – developers aren’t ready and 4 – users don’t want it yet.

Baby boomers are forsaking the mall for Amazon.

I prefer black and white photography. I started out taking pictures with Tri-X and lately I’ve been fooling around with some of the Leica monochrome only sensors. There’s something special about black and white. With that stage set, here are the 2020 winners of an international black and white photography contest. Check out all the categories. Landscape, portrait and street are particularly impressive.

And it’s daylight in America. Or at least it is in Utqiagvik – finally.

To argue in the alternative

Today is Saturday. Happy birthday to the first governor of Massachusetts.

Here’s all the latest SPAC news. (What’s a SPAC, you might ask?)

Houston police officer Tam Dinh Pham said that he absolutely wasn’t in the Capitol during the insurrection. When confronted with his own photos and videos showing him inside the building he admitted that he had in fact gone in. But not to riot. He only wanted to see the historical paintings. Yeah, paintings. That’s the ticket.

Instragram food shooters have had to settle for takeout during the pandemic. Boston Magazine’s Scott Kearnan comes to the rescue with tips for taking photos of soggy snacks.

A lot of people got into Bitcoin for the first time recently and are surprised that it corrected so soon. Apparently they haven’t been paying attention. When to trade? The answer is in the stars.

And Larry King is dead. That’s a surprise. I didn’t know he was still alive.

In the arena

Friday. It’s been on my mind and now it’s here.

Google cancels an internet balloon project and the cheesy headlines write themselves: Moonshot comes down to earth. Trial balloon crashes. Alphabet lets the air out of Internet in the sky project. Big idea goes over like a lead balloon. Etc. Etc. it’s what you would have expected for a project named Loon. Oh, the humanity.

Some of the current mayoral candidates are good at pointing out problems and criticizing others but not so great at coming up with solutions to solve those problems. Andrea Campbell is not in this category. She tells Nik DeCosta-Klipa what she would do about one of the toughest issues in the city today and one that’s close to home for her.

The trees won. Road safety on Melnea Cass Boulevard lost.

If you’re in the market for a new Mac laptop you may want to wait until at least the end of the year. Lots of new stuff in the pipeline, says Mark Gurman. But no Face ID or cellular. That’s probably another year out, he says.

And in closing out with another cliched headline, this highly charged New York Times story on electric eels is, well, shocking.